A modified protocol without fertigation that, instead, focuses on soil health is an attractive option for day-neutral strawberry growers who plant in plastic-covered mounds. We know that functional beneficial microorganisms contribute to soil health and, thereby, boost crop productivity (potential for supplying soil nitrogen, yields), and vigour (resistance to diseases and adverse weather conditions). However, these beneficial soil microorganisms require regular inputs of labile carbon. It is their only energy source and it degrades rapidly. Often, the protocols day-neutral strawberry growers follow include no carbon inputs but may instead include treatments with adverse outcomes, like soil sterility.
To take advantage of healthy soil, we must first develop tools to measure soil health. Today’s laboratories provide comprehensive soil health analyses but lack sufficient data specific to Québec soils to tailor indicator target values. This project will modify current protocols with the addition of labile carbon to replace a portion of the granular fertilizer (organic nitrogen supply) used. The goal is to be able to preserve or rapidly restore the activity of beneficial microorganisms. In addition, this may also eliminate the need for fumigation (disinfection by asphyxiation). All this will serve to lessen farmers’ dependence on nitrogen fertilizers (susceptible to leaching) and make crops more resistant to biotic and abiotic stress. The new protocol will help stabilize farm revenues, while boosting profits.
From 2019 to 2023
Fertilizer management, Soil health
The protocol developed in this project will help preserve and/or rapidly restore the activity of beneficial soil microorganisms.
AgroEnviroLab | Ferme Onésime Pouliot | Ministère de l'Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l'Alimentation
In highbush blueberry fields where stunt disease has been detected, plants that have never received nitrogen fertilizer are more vigorous and homogeneous than plants that have received nitrogen fertilizer.
Development of a growing out-of-soil organic raspberries in high tunnels protocol in a profitable and competitive manner with a view to selling products locally or to large retail chains.
Researcher: Annabelle Firlej
Exploration of the potential of detecting water stress in lowbush blueberries using a thermal infrared imaging sensor installed on a drone.
Researcher: Carl Boivin