Using On-Farm Produced Compost to Reduce Production Costs, Disease and Fertilizer Input in Bell Pepper
The high cost of commercially available transplant media almost makes bell pepper production unprofitable and the peat/vermiculite medium currently being used throughout the industry does not consistently produce the high quality transplants needed for good stand establishment in the field. In addition, this media is formulated with non-renewable resources and its continued use in transplant production is not sustainable.
This producer will compare plants grown in currently used peat/vermiculite media with an improved media consisting of 30% pine bark, 40% peat, 15% vermiculite and 15% high quality compost. His goal is to reduce the cost of growing pepper transplants and enable him to produce a higher quality transplant that will produce higher yields of bell peppers in the field.
The high costs of inorganic fertilizer and pest control chemicals required for production of bell peppers using standard production practices often make the crop marginally profitable, at best. This producer will test if compost will be able to suppress soilborne diseases and nematodes. He further feels that the compost may serve as an ideal source of “slow release” plant nutrients, increase soil organic matter content and cation exchange capacity. If so it will increase nutrient retention and water holding capacity, improve soil tilth and decrease soil compaction.
Utilizing the transplants from the first trials, this producer will compare their performance in the field using treatments of compost and fertilizer with and without methyl bromide application. He will also test treatments without the use of compost both with and without methyl bromide application.