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Mongi Zekri and Robert C.J. Koo

Controlled-release sources of N and K were compared with soluble sources on young `Valencia' orange trees (Citrus sinensis [L.] Osb.). The effects of these fertilizers on leaf mineral concentration, soil chemical analysis, and tree growth were evaluated for 3 years. Soluble fertilizers were generally more readily available but had shorter residual effects on leaves and soil than controlled-release fertilizers. In the top 30 cm of soil, the plots treated with controlled-release N had 23% more total N than those treated with soluble N sources, while the plots fertilized with controlled-release K contained 56% more extractable K than those that received soluble K. Different effects on leaf and soil N between the two controlled-release N sources, sulfur-coated urea (SCU) and methylene urea (MU), were also found. With the use of controlled-release fertilizers, application frequency was reduced from a total of 15 to six applications with no adverse effects on tree growth, leaf mineral composition, or soil fertility during the first 3 years. Combining soluble and controlled-release fertilizers in a plant nutrition program offers an economical and effective strategy for citrus growers.

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James B. Calkins and Bert T. Swanson

Media fertility, nutrient availability, and subsequently plant nutrition are critical factors that can be modified by growers to produce quality container-grown plants. The trend in container fertility has been toward incorporation of slow-release fertilizers; however, fertility release curves are variable and fertilizer longevity for many fertilizers is limited. Seventeen slow-release fertilizers were compared for longevity and plant performance over a 2-year production cycle using deciduous and evergreen plant materials. Plant growth was quantified based on height, volume, branching, dry weight, and quality. Soil fertility levels based on leachates were followed. Nutrient release for the incorporated fertilizers evaluated was variable. Fertility treatment effects were species-dependent. Several incorporated, slow-release fertilizers, especially those high in nitrogen and having extended release curves, including Nutricote 20–7–10, Scotts Experimental 24–6–10 and 26–6–11, Scotts Prokote Plus 20–3–10, Sierra 17–6–10, Sierra High N 24–4–6, Sierra Experimental 24–4–8, Woodace 21–4–10, Woodace 23–7–12, and Woodace Briquettes 23–2–0, show promise for use in 2-year container production systems.

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Y.C. Li, P.J. Stoffella, A.K. Alva, D.V. Calvert, and D.A. Graetz

Compost amendment to agricultural soils has been shown to either reduce disease incidence, conserve soil moisture, control weeds or improve soil fertility. Application of compost can range from 5 to 250 Mt·ha–1 (N content up to 4%). Large application of compost with high N and P levels may result in excessive leaching of nitrate, ammonium, and phosphate into groundwater. It could be a serious concern on the east coast of Florida with its high annual rainfall and shallow water table. In this study, five composts (sugarcane filtercake, biosolids, and mixtures of municipal solid wastes and biosolids) were collected from different facilities throughout Florida. Composts were applied on a surface of 15-cm sandy soil columns at the rate of 100 Mt·ha–1 on the surface basis and leached with deionized water by 300 ml·d–1 for 5 days (equivalent to 34 cm rainfall). The concentrations of NO3-N, NH4-N, and PO4-P in leachates reached as high as 246, 29, and 142 mg·L–1, respectively. The amount of N and P leached following 5-day leaching events accounted for 3.3% to 15.8% of total N and 0.2% to 2.8% of total P as inorganic forms.

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Tina Gray Teague and Gail S. Lee

Soil fertility studies conducted in commercial vegetable fields to examine alternative uses of mid-south agricultural wastes as soil amendments included work with poultry litter, cotton gin trash, and rice hulls. Poultry litter applications ranging from 0.3 to 0.9 Mg·ha–1 resulted in significant increases in spinach, cabbage, turnip greens, and collard yields grown in soils damaged by precision leveling or in sandy soils with low organic matter; however, positive yield response to litter applied to undamaged soils was variable. Raw rice hulls applied at rates ranging from 2 to 44 Mg·ha–1 resulted in reduced cabbage yield. Trials with cotton gin trash and cover crops on yield of cabbage, broccoli, southern pea, snap bean, and cucumber indicate significant problems with weeds following use of raw gin trash. Composting alleviated most weed problems, but no yield response was apparent at composted gin trash rates ≤9.6 Mg·ha–1. High rates (60 Mg·ha–1) of composted gin trash on damaged soil significantly improved cabbage yield. There were increases in soil pH and Ca levels. Research was supported by a SAREIACE grant.

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Ian A. Merwin, Warren C. Stiles, and Harold M. van Es

This study was conducted to compare various orchard groundcover management systems (GMSs)—including a crownvetch “living mulch” (CNVCH), close-mowed (MWSOD) and chemically growth-regulated (GRSOD) sodgrasses, pre-emergence (NDPQT) and two widths of post-emergence (GLY1.5 and GLY2.5) herbicides, hay-straw mulch (STMCH), and monthly rototillage (tilled)—during the first 6 years in a newly established apple (Malus domestica Borkh.) planting. Mean soil water potential at 5 to 35 cm deep varied substantially among treatments each summer, and treatment × year interactions were observed. During most growing seasons from 1986 to 1991, soil water availability trends were STMCH > NDPQT > GLY2.5 > GLY1.5 > tilled > GRSOD > MWSOD > CNVCH. Soil organic matter content increased under STMCH, CNVCH, and MWSOD and decreased under NDPQT and tilled treatments. Water infiltration and saturated hydraulic conductivity after 4 years were lower under NDPQT and tilled, and soil under STMCH and GRSOD retained more water per unit volume at applied pressures approximating field water capacity. Mid-summer soil temperatures at 5 cm deep were highest (25 to 28C) in tilled and NDPQT plots, intermediate (22 to 24C) under GRSOD, and lowest (16 to 20C) under CNVCH and STMCH. These observations indicate that long-term soil fertility and orchard productivity may be diminished under pre-emergence herbicides and mechanical cultivation in comparison with certain other GMSs.

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Mahdi Abdal and Majda Sulieman

Agricultural development in Kuwait faces many problems and obstacles, such as limitation of water resources for irrigation, soils conditions, climatic extreme (particularly during the summer periods), and trained labor. With these extreme conditions for agricultural development in Kuwait, there is a strong demand from the public and the government for agricultural activities, particularly in urban landscape and greenery. World travel has enhanced the public's desire for the beautification of the urban areas and has emphasized the importance of the urban landscape. Planning urban landscape and greenery for Kuwait depends on various variables and efficient management of limited resources. Irrigation water is limited in Kuwait, and the quality of water is deteriorating from over-pumping of underground water and increased soil salinity by over irrigation and lack of drainage. Efficient irrigation-water management can be improved in Kuwait with enhanced irrigation research and implementation of the recommendations of this research. Research topics can also include water evaporation, which is high in Kuwait, and the introduction of mulching materials to improve water irrigation efficiency. Most of the soils in Kuwait are sandy with limited organic materials and plant nutrients. Research in soil fertility and plant uptake of nutrients is essential for any agricultural activities. Introducing ornamental plants tolerant to drought, salinity, and heat is a continuous research component of urban landscape and greenery in Kuwait. Training local staff in basic agricultural activities and research development should improve resource management and enhance the greenery of Kuwait.

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Hector Valenzuela, Ted Goo, Ted Radovich, and Susan Migita

As many farmers transition toward organic farming, research-based information is required to determine the appropriate rates and timing for the application of available organic fertilizers. Four experiments were conducted over a 3-year period in Oahu, Hawaii, to evaluate the effect of five different organic amendments on the growth and yield of edible ginger. Fertilizer amendments, applied at a rate of 30–60 t·ha-1, included bone meal, a locally available commercial chicken manure-based compost, a commercial Bokashi compost, aged chicken manure, synthetic fertilizer (farmer's practice at 300 kg·ha-1 N), and a control. Each treatment plot consisted of a 10-m row with 15 plants per plot, and five replications per treatment. Ginger was planted in April of every year, and harvested from February to March of the following year. Data collected included soil fertility before initiation and after experiment completion, tissue nutrient levels, plant stands, plant height, and stem number, individual tops and root weight of 5–10 plants per treatment, as well as nematode counts before and after experiment completion. The data showed that similar or greater root weight yields and quality were obtained with the use of organic amendments compared to the use of synthetic fertilizer. Increased yields were obtained when organic amendment and fertilizer applications were split over the growing season. Data will be presented with regard to initial plant stands, tissue levels, and yield trends in response to the several amendments used in these experiments, and management considerations for farmers will be discussed.

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Erin M. Silva and Geraldine Muller

In 2008, a collaborative project was initiated between the La Farge School District (La Farge, WI), University of Wisconsin–Madison College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Organic Valley Cooperative Regions Organic Producers Pools (La Farge, WI), and Kickapoo Valley Reserve (La Farge, WI). The overarching mission of the program is to build a sustainable, hands-on educational farm and corresponding curriculum to teach organic agriculture principles to high school students and increase the number of students entering agriculture-related professional fields. Secondary goals of the project include delivering locally grown organic produce and related organic agriculture educational opportunities to the broader community. To achieve these goals, a multifaceted student internship program was created that includes a range of experiential learning opportunities for students. With the participation of each of the project partners, about ten students per year engage in the field production of certified organic vegetables, participate in field trips to sites related to organic agriculture, and distribute the produce to the school and the broader community. Through the integration of these activities, students are taught key principles of successful organic management, including ecologically based disease, weed, and insect management, development of a soil fertility plan, market analysis and its implications of crop selection, and determination of costs of production. In the face of both successes and challenges, through informal evaluation of students and the project team, the program continues to develop each year.

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James F. Cahill and Eric G. Lamb

A plant's performance depends on its ability to deal with numerous, simultaneous ecological challenges. In both natural and production systems, dominant challenges include competition for soil resources and light, herbivory, and general abiotic stress. A central goal of research is to understand how these processes interact with each other and with plant phenotype (above- and belowground) to influence overall plant performance. Complicating these efforts is the reality that plants are phenotypically plastic with the phenotypic response to one challenge potentially altering the impact of a different challenge. Furthermore, factors external to the plant (e.g., the genotypic and phenotypic composition of the surrounding plants) can also influence the consequence of various ecological pressures. We have been using Arabidopsis thaliana as a model organism to help disentangle this complicated web of ecological interactions. Competitive ability can be influenced by small genotypic changes. A plant's ability to suppress competitors is driven mainly by size-related traits and soil fertility and a plant's ability to withstand harm coming from numerous sources. The relative importance of competition is contingent not only on the match between genotype and environment, but also on the diversity of genotypes within a given population. There is a need to consider alternative effects of plant traits along with the cascading consequences of plant responses to biotic and abiotic challenges.

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Timothy J. Smalley and Frank B. Flanders

The Industry Liaison Committee of the American Society for Horticultural Science conducted a survey of the horticulture industry to systematically determine: 1) industry's perception of university training of recent graduates and 2) industry's perception of educational needs for future graduates. A Delphi survey was sent to experts in the fruit, ornamental, greenhouse, turf, and vegetable industry. The respondents expressed dissatisfaction with the level of competence of recent university graduates in personnel management and marketing. The lack of hands-on training in university courses was viewed as a major problem, but the respondents agreed that internships should provide university students with the necessary practical experience and universities should concentrate on the science of horticulture. The respondents indicated that business management and marketing expertise will be more important in the future than knowledge of production techniques; however, they would not be more likely to hire a business major instead of a horticulture major. The following areas of study were ranked for relative importance to be included in the university curriculum (from most important to least): communication skills, horticultural technology, business management, personnel management, plant nutrition and soil fertility, pest control, plant physiology, environmental awareness, plant physiology, plant pathology, accounting, and equipment use and maintenance. A second round of questioning for this Delphi survey is being conducted and results will be presented to verify preliminary results.