Ginsing Production Utilizing Natural Fungicides
The growing and harvesting of ginseng is very labor intensive. So, once chemical spraying was made available and shown to be effective, ginseng growers quickly adopted the use of agricultural chemicals–primarily fungicides–which have now been used for decades. With chemical spraying, labor costs were reduced and, because ginseng could now be grown in closely spaced monocultures, profits were increased.
But, like many crops, ginseng can become stressed and diseased in a monoculture environment. The plants are spaced very closely together and are pushed with fertilizers to speed the growing process. These practices are conductive to the development of diseases that are able to destroy the plant and root.
The goal of this project is to research the efficacy of two alternatives to chemical fungicides. Prior research has shown that goldenseal can often be grown successfully in a bed which had previously produced diseased ginseng. Therefore, spraying goldenseal tea on the beds in the fall and early spring may help control unwanted fungal soil activity.
Other farming practices use horsetail (Equisetum, spp.) which is extremely high in silica, as an anti-fungal. It would seem that spraying a horsetail tea on the leaves and stems would be helpful in building up positive fungi during the growth cycle.
Monoculture ginseng patches or beds located in the woods at Eagle Feather Organic Farm will be sprayed with both goldenseal and horsetail sprays as well as compost tea and oxidate. A non-sprayed treatment will be included as a control. The spraying schedule will be recorded.
The health and growth of the ginseng will be measured.