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  • Author or Editor: Charles Zachry Ogles x
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In-season nitrogen (N) management is a common challenge in organic vegetable production. This is especially true when using polyethylene mulch combined with fertigation. Soluble organic N sources suitable for fertigation in organic vegetable production are needed. The objective of this research was to evaluate an organic fish fertilizer in a squash/collard rotation and to compare its effectiveness to inorganic sources. A 2-year crop sequence of yellow squash (Cucurbita pepo) and collards (Brassica oleracea var. acephala) was used. To eliminate the rotation order effect, the crops were switched each year: yellow squash-collard in Year 1 and collard-yellow squash in Year 2. Three N sources were used along with a zero N control: hydrolyzed fish fertilizer (HFF), inorganic N source with secondary and micronutrients (INORGWM), and inorganic N without secondary or micronutrients (INORGWO). Three N rates and a control were also included: 1) N at the recommended rate (152 kg·ha−1 for yellow squash and 110 kg·ha−1 for collards); 2) N at 80% of the recommended rate; 3) N at 60% of the recommended rate; and 4) a zero N control. Year 2012 yellow squash had a 30% higher yield when grown with inorganic N as compared with squash grown in HFF. Year 2012 collards had a 21% higher yield when grown with INORGWM as compared with collards grown in the HFF. In the second year, highest yields of collards were again produced in the INORGWM treatments followed by those grown in the HFF treatments. Second-year squash grown in the inorganic N treatments produced highest yields, and squash grown in the HFF had a 16% lower yield as compared with those grown in the two inorganic N sources. INORGWO produced lower marketable collard yields than INORGWM or HFF as a result of sulfur deficiency. Although yields were reduced in the crops grown in HFF treatments, the premium price and resultant profit associated with organic products were enough to offset the reduced yield. If growers can obtain the price premiums associated with organic produce, the use of HFF could be an economically feasible option in organic vegetable production.

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