Citrus growers are beginning to explore the potential of soilless culture. Ample opportunities exist for ever-evolving systems offering improved yield while overcoming a diminishing availability of soil fumigants and increased pest pressure. There is a need for flexibility in a constantly changing world of new production methods and regulations.
Soilless culture provides an unprecedented opportunity to rethink how tree fruit is produced. The foundational science and knowledge used to produce containerized greenhouse and nursery crops over for the past half-century can inform future innovations while also incrementally improving existing production systems.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Specialty Crops Research Initiative has awarded a planning grant to a multi-disciplinary team of seven North American universities and federal laboratories. Jeb Fields, assistant professor and Extension specialist at the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, is leading the Soilless Substrate Science project.
The goal of this planning grant is to reimagine and redefine soilless substrate science to better meet the expanding range of crops and productions systems that are transitioning from traditional field soils. This goal will be accomplished through hosting a North American Soilless Substrate Summit to steer the research, pursuing innovative ideas and developing a national needs assessment for current and future specialty crop growers.
The research team is seeking input from growers and suppliers across the continent to identify innovations and constraints when producing specialty crops with soilless substrates. Together, the needs, cost restraints, material availability and overall sustainability to ensure successful paths forward for growers will be determined. Citrus industry members are invited to provide input through participation in an online survey.
For more information or to become a partner in this research, contact Jeb Fields (JSFields@agcenter.lsu.edu) or Jim Owen (firstname.lastname@example.org). Learn more about the Soilless Substrate Science project here.
Source: Soilless Substrate Science
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