- Fruits: general small fruits
- Crop Production: agroforestry, biological inoculants, organic fertilizers
- Education and Training: farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research, youth education
- Production Systems: agroecosystems, holistic management, organic agriculture
- Soil Management: soil microbiology, soil chemistry
Transplants are subject to a number of environmental stressors that can affect their survivability and development. Shipping and handling of mail order plants can be among these stressors. Bareroot stock will often even have its roots trimmed to make it easier to ship. These stressors can give the plant a diminished ability to uptake nutrients and moisture from the soil leading to the plant's inability to survive or optimally develop. It is important for the grower to reduce environmental stressors because these stressors can lead to poor plant development and fruit production and ultimately reduced income. In an effort to find a solution to reduce the affect of these environmental stressors, I will look at the addition of mychorrizal inoculum and/or compost when planting two varieties of small berries.
The focus of this experiment is a field experiment meant to help the small farmer to improve the survivability and plant development of transplants with commercially available products. Two products are chosen, the Plant Health Care Tree Saver inoculum and the Purple Cow compost. The Plant Health Care product, like other commercial mychorrizal products, has a variety of types of mychorriza spores. Theoretically the appropriate spore develops for the plant affected by the spore. Also the Plant Health Care product has bacteria that is beneficial to the soil that helps to breakdown organic matter. Although the beneficial bacteria may have a confounding effect on this experiment, this product appeared to be the best quality and is most cost effective.
The Purple Cow compost was chosen because it appears to be a balanced product of plant products and additional minerals. Compost was chosen for a trial because it appears to be a traditional soil amendment when planting. The berries chosen for this experiment are gooseberry and serviceberry. More than one kind of berry is chosen because mychorrizae will sometimes affect even different cultivars differently. Each berry will be divided into four groups. Group one will be a control used for comparing to the other groups. Group two will be a group treated with mychorrizal inoculum. Group three will be treated with compost. Group four will have mychorrizal inoculum and compost treatment.
An attempt will be made to minimize environmental stressors such as moisture by providing drip irrigation and the competition for nutrients and moisture by weeds by adding a weed barrier. The planting will be made in a small field with similar soil type throughout the field. Guard rows or plants will be used to block the affect of mychorrizals that may have formed on trees from a nearby windbreak. A non-invasive, non-competitive cover crop of bluegrass and turf fescue will be planted in between rows. An alfalfa clover mix will be planted in the remaining part of the field (about one acre) to be used to help mulch the bushes.
An initial soil test will be performed to establish a baseline prior to planting and to determine if the soil needs any amendment prior to planting. It will look at organic matter, pH, and nutrients. A soil mychorrizal test will be done at one month, five months, and twelve months post planting to determine if mychorriza is established in the plants. As the plants grow, they will be assessed for plant growth and quality by using a system of objective and subjective observations.