- Fruits: berries (blueberries)
- Crop Production: irrigation, organic fertilizers
- Education and Training: demonstration, on-farm/ranch research, workshop
- Pest Management: cultivation
- Soil Management: green manures, soil quality/health
- Sustainable Communities: sustainability measures
Recent changes in commodity programs and competition from imported commodities have increased the income risk to farmers. As a result, many farmers are considering a transition to an alternative, high-value crop production as a way to sustain their income. One crop of significant interest is rabbiteye blueberry. Recent demand for this fruit has increased dramatically and so have prices received for the product by producers. Over 200 acres of blueberries have been planted in southeastern Alabama in the past three years. Sites selected for blueberry establishment generally followed row crops land, where soils were marginally suited for blueberry production, featuring low soil organic matter content, and high soil pH. Supplemental irrigation water sources in the southeastern part of the state are carbonate aquifers. In events where the supplemental irrigation is the predominant water source, particularly in drought years, alkaline irrigation water will create alkaline soil conditions that will not favor successful blueberry establishment and production. Thus, the purpose of this on-farm study is to generate an enhanced knowledge of the benefits of using different approaches to improve the soil organic matter content, to correct soil pH, and to manage irrigation water alkalinity for sustainable blueberry production.
Project objectives from proposal:
The objectives of this study will be: 1) assess the effect of sulfuric acid treatment injected through the irrigation system on soil pH and blueberry growth and development; 2) evaluate the effect of plug-in emitter and micro-jet irrigation systems on soil pH and blueberry performance; 3) determine the effect of various mulch treatments on soil organic matter content and blueberry plant growth.