Since World War II, U.S. agriculture has reduced production costs by substituting petrochemicals for labor. Adverse impacts from chemical intensive agriculture include increased pest levels, groundwater and surface water contamination, soil erosion, and concerns about harmful levels of pesticide residues. Sustainable farming programs such as integrated crop management (ICM) and organic farming encourage farmers to use systems that reduce the adverse impacts of chemical agriculture. However, before farmers adopt an alternative system, they must determine that economic benefits from the alternative farming activities exceed the costs incurred. Unfortunately, relatively few studies have compared the cost of organic crop production with conventional production systems. Results of these studies are mixed. In some studies, organic systems are more profitable than conventional systems with organic price premiums, but are not economically viable without price premiums. In one long-term study, the organic system was more profitable than a conventional one if the cost of family labor was ignored, but less profitable if it was included. In some studies, net returns were higher for ICM than for conventional or organic systems, but in others, they were higher. Results also vary on a crop by crop basis.
Robin G. Brumfield
Robert H. Stamps
One of the most difficult times to balance crop nitrogen (N) requirements with concerns about nitrate-N leaching occurs during crop establishment, when root systems are poorly developed and not widely distributed in the growing medium. This dilemma can be exacerbated when producing a slow-growing plant such as leatherleaf fern (Rumohra adiantiformis [Forst.] Ching) on sandy soils in shadehouses in areas with significant rainfall. Rhizomes were planted in 36 drainage lysimeters containing Tavares fine sand located in a shadehouse. Nitrogen fertilizer was applied at nine rates using liquid and/or controlled-release fertilizer. Nitrogen application rates were varied as the rhizomes became established and spread into unplanted areas of the lysimeters. Irrigation and rainfall were monitored and the amount of water not lost to evapotranspiration was determined. Nitrogen (ammoniacal, nitrate/nitrite, total Kjeldahl) concentrations in leachate collected below the rootzone were determined. Stipe sap nitrate and frond total Kjeldahl nitrogen (TKN) were determined to try to develop a production monitoring technique. Initially, only leachate samples from controlled-release fertilizer plots treated at 21 and 42 kg of N/ha per year and liquid fertilizer at 28 kg of N/ha per year were consistently below the maximum contamination level (MCL) of 10 mg·L–1. As the fern became established, leachate nitrate/nitrite-N concentrations from higher N application rate treatments also remained below the MCL. Leachate N concentrations decreased as rainfall increased. Fern growth increased with increasing N application rate. Stipe sap nitrate-N and frond TKN concentrations were not well-correlated during establishment.
James W. Rushing, Robert J. Dufault, Richard L. Hassell, and B. Merle Shepard
Feverfew has aspirin-like properties and has been utilized for the treatment of pain, particularly migraine headache. Parthenolide is the sesquiterpene lactone believed to be responsible for the medicinal properties. The potential for utilizing existing tobacco production and handling systems for the production and postharvest handling of feverfew was investigated. In year one, 8 commercial tobacco growers each planted about one-half acre of feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium L. Schulz-Bip.). The yield of dry herb varied among farmers from about 122 to 772 (55 to 350 kg) pounds per half-acre. The parthenolide content of the dried herb from most producers was within the range desired by industry, but four factors precluded its salability: a) presence of foreign matter, primarily weeds; b) excessive ash content due to contamination from sandy soils; c) mold resulting from processing with excessive moisture content, and; d) insect infestation (tobacco beetles Lasioderma serricorne) during storage. All of these limitations resulted from the failure to implement good agricultural aractices (GAPs) and good manufacturing practices (GMPs) during production and handling of the product. A second planting of the feverfew was carried out with strict attention to GAPs and GMPs. In this trial, all of the dried feverfew met the requirements for sale. Here we report on the management of production and handling systems for feverfew that can enable growers to produce high quality herbs that meet the high standards for medicinal use.
Clinton C. Shock, Erik B. G. Feibert, and Lamont D. Saunders
Onion (Allium cepa L.) production in the Treasure Valley of eastern Oregon and southwestern Idaho has been based on furrow irrigation with 318 kg·ha-1 N fertilizer and average yields of 70 Mg·ha-1, but these practices have been implicated in nitrate contamination of groundwater. Drip irrigation, introduced in the early 1990s, has several advantages, including reduced leaching losses. Since onion plant populations and N fertilizer rates can affect economic returns, studies were conducted in 1999, 2000, and 2001 to determine optimum plant populations and N fertilizer rates for subsurface drip-irrigated onion. Long-day onion (`Vision') was subjected to a combination of seven nitrogen fertilization rates (0 to 336 kg·ha-1 in 56-kg increments applied between late May and early July) and four plant populations (185, 250, 300, and 370 thousand plants/ha). Onion was grown on silt loam in two double rows spaced 0.56 m apart on 1.1 m beds with a drip tape buried 13 cm deep in the bed center. Soil water potential was maintained nearly constant at -20 kPa by automated irrigations based on soil water potential measurements at a 0.2-m depth. Onion bulbs were evaluated for yield and grade after 70 days of storage. Onion yield and grade were highly responsive to plant population. Onion marketable yield increased, and bulb diameter decreased with increasing plant population. Within the range of plant populations tested, gross returns were not always responsive to plant population. Returns were increased by the increase in marketable yield obtained with higher plant population, but higher plant population also reduced the production of the largest sized bulbs which had the highest value per weight. Onion yielded 95 Mg·ha-1 with no applied N fertilizer, averaged over plant populations and years. Onion yield and grade were not responsive to N fertilizer rate or interaction of N fertilizer rate with plant population. Preplant soil available N, N mineralization, and N in irrigation water all contributed N to the crop. Onion N uptake did not increase with increasing N fertilizer rate.
Meredith V. Melendez, Joseph R. Heckman, Stephanie Murphy, and Frank D’Amico
contamination. 20 Jan. 2020. < https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/nrcs142p2_053279.pdf > U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 2007 Method 6200: Field portable x-ray fluorescence spectrometry for the determination of elemental concentrations in soil
Danielle D. Treadwell, George J. Hochmuth, Robert C. Hochmuth, Eric H. Simonne, Lei L. Davis, Wanda L. Laughlin, Yuncong Li, Teresa Olczyk, Richard K. Sprenkel, and Lance S. Osborne
to soil 90 d in advance of crops with harvested portions that do not touch the soil and 120 d in advance of harvested portions that do touch the soil. Many studies have been conducted on the use of compost as a media supplement in greenhouse
Yun-wen Wang, Bruce L. Dunn, and Daryl B. Arnall
(CRD). Normalized Difference Vegetation Index, Soil-Plant Analyses Development value, and nitrogen content determination. Normalized Difference Vegetative Index readings were collected 42 and 48 d after initial fertilizer treatment (DAT) using a NDVI
Lincoln Zotarelli, Johannes Scholberg, Michael Dukes, Hannah Snyder, Eric Simonne, and Michael Munoz-Carpena
On sandy soils, potential N contamination of groundwater resources associated with intensively managed vegetables may hamper the sustainability of these systems. The objective of this study was to evaluate the interaction between irrigation system design/scheduling and N fertilization rates on zucchini production and potential N leaching. Zucchini was planted during Fall 2005 using three N fertilizer rates (73, 145, 217 kg/ha) and four different irrigation approaches. Irrigation scheduling included surface-applied drip irrigation and fertigation: SUR1 (141 mm applied) and SUR2 (266 mm) using irrigation control system (QIC) that allowed time-based irrigation (up to five events per day) and a threshold setting of 13% and 15% volumetric water content (VWC), respectively; Subsurface drip irrigation (SDI) using a QIC setting of 10% VWC (116 mm) combined with surface applied fertigation; and a control treatment with irrigation applied once daily (424 mm). Leacheate volumes were measured by drainage lysimeters. Nitrate leaching increased with irrigation rate and N rate and measured values ranged from 4 to 42 kg N/ha. Use of SDI greatly reduced nitrate leaching compared to other treatments. SDI and SUR1 treatments had no effect on yields (29 Mg/ha). However, SDI had a 15% and 479% higher water use efficiency (WUE) compared to SUR1 and the fixed irrigation duration treatment. Application of N in excess of intermediate N-rate (standard recommendation) did not increase yield but yield was reduced at the lowest N-rate. It is concluded that combining sensor-based SDI with surface applied fertigation resulted similar or higher yields while it reduced both water use and potential N leaching because of improved nutrient retention in the active root zone.
Peter J. Landschoot, Bradley S. Park, Andrew S. McNitt, and Michael A. Fidanza
Fumigation of annual bluegrass (Poa annua L.)-infested putting greens before seeding creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera L.) prevents stand contamination due to annual bluegrass seedling emergence. Dazomet is a soil fumigant labeled for use in putting green renovation; however, limited data are available on efficacy of dazomet controlling annual bluegrass seedling emergence following surface-applications. The objectives of this study were to determine the influence of rate and plastic covering of surface-applied dazomet on annual bluegrass seedling emergence in putting green turf; and safe creeping bentgrass seeding intervals following applications of dazomet to putting green surfaces. Treatments were applied in late summer to the surface of a 20-year-old stand of turf maintained as a putting green and plots were watered immediately after application and throughout each test period. Plastic-covered dazomet treatments had fewer annual bluegrass seedlings than noncovered dazomet treatments. Three plastic-covered dazomet treatments (291, 340, and 388 kg·ha-1) provided complete control of annual bluegrass seedlings during 2000 and 2001. None of the noncovered dazomet treatments provided complete control of annual bluegrass seedling emergence. Results of the seeding interval experiment revealed that creeping bentgrass seedling development was not inhibited in both plastic-covered and noncovered dazomet treatments, when seeded 8, 10, 13, and 16 d after dazomet was applied to the turf surface. Results of this study demonstrate that dazomet, applied at rates ≥291 kg·ha-1 to the surface of a putting green in summer and covered with plastic for 7 d, can control annual bluegrass seedling emergence. Chemical name used: tetrahydro-3,5-dimethyl-2H-1,3,5-thiadiazine-2-thione (dazomet).
Mary C. Stevens, Rui Yang, and Joshua H. Freeman
Due to the ban on methyl bromide (MBr), the efficacy of old and new soil fumigants have been examined and developed further. A novel soil fumigant not currently labeled in the United States, ethanedinitrile (EDN), was initially examined for use as a