Production of strawberries in many parts of the country has moved away from a perennial matted-row system to an annual plasticulture system. An annual plasticulture system has the potential to produce higher yields of strawberries, but may require more frequent soil tillage and higher input costs. Soil tillage causes increased rates of soil erosion, alters soil biology, and reduces soil quality over time. This project seeks to trial an ecologically sound growing method that could reduce tillage in strawberry production systems while promoting soil health and economic viability. The proposed trial growing method would utilize a 2-year cycle of production in which strawberries are grown for the first year on plastic mulch and retained for a second year of production in a modified matted-row system. This combination model has the potential to increase soil health due to reduced tillage, reduce agricultural waste production, and increase overall profitability by reducing input, labor, and plant costs.
Project objectives from proposal:
- Evaluate the yield and profitability of a combination plasticulture / matted-row strawberry production system.
- Compare measurements of soil health for a combination plasticulture / matted-row strawberry production system and an annual plasticulture system.
- Share findings by hosting a field day with the regional Growing Growers apprenticeship program that promotes sustainable agriculture throughout south-central Kansas; hosting a workshop for county 4-H youth, hosting a workshop for county FFA clubs, presenting results at a conference, and demonstrating production methods using videos on social media and farm website.