Phase 2: Burgundy Truffle Orchard Establishment – The Burgundy Truffle as a new sustainable agro-forestry crop for Missouri
FNC10-834: Phase 1 has taken longer than expected due to the extent to which the soil required amendment to support burgundy truffle colonization and establishment. Creating the required pH down to a depth of 12 inches required more lime than originally calculated. The incorporation of organic material, such as remnants of the original pasture grass as well as annual rye grass into the soil has also had an effect of lowing the pH. After the 3rd soil test, we realized we would need another large incorporation of lime and would have to mold board plow the soil after application to incorporate it evenly across the 12 inches.
Soil tests after the last lime application were exactly what we had been looking for, a pH level of 7.8-7.9 at each level tested. Reaching this milestone has provided closure for Phase 1 and sets the stage for Phase 2.
We are now working on increasing the organic matter in the soil and have chipped two dump truck loads of old shiitake bed logs as well as 18 bales of old hay and spread them evenly across the orchard. This has been disked into the soil and we are letting it decompose more before planting 50 lbs of buckwheat as an additional organic matter crop. The soil will be tilled before planting and raked after seeding.
We are also looking at different methodology for producing a large amount of biochar using chips from Missouri Mulch (a byproduct of the bourbon barrel cooperage industry). We are exploring making the biochar in a local charcoal kiln.
The electric service has been put in place on the electric pole adjacent to the orchard but the cost of drilling and installing the well was much higher than the estimates we were given upfront due to the nature of the karst topography and the need to drill to over 450 feet and case the well the full depth. We are looking at less expensive options including a water tank mounted on a trailer.
The RPM oak seedlings have been planted at Forrest Keeling Nursery in preparation for planting this fall. The tree roots will be inoculated in place from Swedish Burgundy Truffles.
We are hoping to create the 15 foot wide raised bed in the truffle orchard with a rice levee plow.
Once the planting date window has been established we will set the date for the Open House which will document the process up until now as well as highlight the steps we hope to take in the years between now and our first harvest.
- Nicky, Nolan and the chipping party
- Chips being dumped ready for spreading
- Old Shiitake Logs used for chipping
- Old Hay Bales used for organic matter
- Rice Levee Plow
- RPM Root System
- Chipping spent shiitake logs into dumptruck
- Old hay lined up for spreading on Truffle Orchard
Performance Targets at this stage are critical for setting the stage for planting the host trees in the fall. The goal of reaching the proper pH level has been achieved in Phase 1 but will need to be monitored and maintained as other soil amendments are implemented.
Soil Organic Matter
Some soil amendment for increasing soil organic matter was partially successful in the first phase. As would be expected, organic matter was highest in the first 4 inches of soil (2.1%) and lowest in the 8 inch – 12 inch layer (0.9%). After mold board plowing, the range was consistent across all depths with an average of 1.7%.
After incorporation of cover vegetation, the average organic matter raised slightly to 2% from 1.6%. However the target is as high as we can get up to 12% which is going to be a real challenge to achieve.
Our first milestone was getting the pH level reached and our second milestone will be reaching a much higher soil pH level.
Transformer and Power Panel have been installed.
RPM seedlings have been planted at Forrest Keeling.
Logs chips and Old Hay has been incorporated into the soil.
Cost of the well due to karst topography in this area will require a different solution to the irrigation water source.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
At the end of the summer we will know how much we have been able to raise the soil organic matter which will be one of the largest challenges of the soil preparatory work.
The introduction of biochar will also help the trees access the soil nutrients even with a lower organic content.
We anticipate one final liming before planting as the introduction of organic matter into the soil will lower the pH.
To created the 15 foot wide raised beds we are hoping to borrow a rice levee plow from the University of Missouri Farm if we are able to pull it with the available tractors on the farm.
Ozark Forest Mushrooms
Salem, MO 65560
Office Phone: 5738583288
Research Associate Professor
University of Missouri – Columbia
The Center for Agroforestry
109 Waters Hall
Columbia, MO 65211
Office Phone: 5738821471