- Additional Plants: herbs
- Crop Production: crop improvement and selection, water management
- Pest Management: cultivation, mulching - plastic, weed ecology
- Soil Management: soil quality/health
The Flint Hills region of Kansas is a unique ecosystem in the heartland of the United States that is dominated agriculturally by cattle ranching and hay production. Attempts to diversify agricultural crop production here can be challenging due to the variable climate, rocky terrain, and calcareous soils. One alternative crop identified as having commercial potential is Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia and L. x intermedia) due to its drought tolerance, preference for high pH soils, and the local demand for lavender products. One particularly evident challenge facing lavender production is the need to reduce labor inputs (weed management, harvesting, planting, etc.).
Additionally, variable precipitation and temperatures can reduce production potential.
To address these issues while preserving natural resources, three production systems will be evaluated for four lavender varieties. These systems include: bare ground (cultivated), white landscape fabric, and black landscape fabric treatments. To assess the effectiveness of each system, measures of crop health, yield in addition to soil temperatures and moisture will be collected throughout the duration of the project. Labor hours will also be calculated in each treatment to assess potential labor reductions.
- Establish research plot using various commercially available lavender varieties and mulching treatments.
- Collect and summarize data on plant vigor, mortality, crop yields, soil temperature, soil moisture and labor usage for each treatment combination.
- Assess the effectiveness of each treatment, and develop hypotheses for observations made.
- Share the results of the project with other current and potential lavender growers via the United States Lavender Grower’s Association (USLGA), website and social media outlets, and at regional lavender grower via the United States Lavender Grower’s Association (USLGA), website and social media outlets, and at regional lavender grower meetings.