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  • Author or Editor: Edward Hanlon x
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Seventy-five percent (75%) of U.S. produced winter snap beans are grown on limestone soils in southern Dade County, Florida Since this crop requires 60-70 days from planting to harvest, growers need information to make changes in fertilizer practices on an almost instantaneous basis. As part of a study to calibrate soil tests with yield responses to different levels of applied fertilizers, plant sap quick tests are being calibrated with laboratory analyses of whole leaf samples. Beans were grown at two locations -- in a grower's field and at the University of Florida Tropical Research & Education Center (TREC). Samples were taken simultaneously for both plant sap quick tests using petioles and for whole leaf tissue analyses. Results and how these have been extended to local growers will be presented.

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Compost is the product resulting from the controlled biological decomposition of organic material that has been sanitized through the generation of heat and processed to further reduce pathogens as defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and stabilized to the point that the compost is beneficial to plant growth. Organic materials used for composting in Florida are mainly yard wastes (trash) and food wastes. More than 5.7 million tons of composts could be produced from yard trash and food waste in the state. Animal manure and biosolids (treated sludge) can also be composted, but are not discussed in this article. “Other wastes” as discussed herein [food processing wastes, coal ash, wood ash, drinking water treatment residuals (WTRs), and phosphogypsum] are by-products of leading Florida industries and are available in large quantities for reuse. About 5 million tons of food processing waste [citrus (Citrus spp.) and vegetables alone], 1.85 million tons of coal ash (from 28 coal-burning power plants), 0.05 million tons of wood ash, 1000 million tons of phosphogypsum (from the state's phosphate fertilizer industry), and significant, but unknown, amounts of WTRs are available. Due to the growing interest in sustainable agriculture practices, this article is intended to discuss the current regulations and guidelines for composting and the use of composts and other wastes in Florida, the characteristics, benefits, and concerns of Florida compost and other wastes, and current research and needs of research and extension for incorporating compost and other waste materials in Florida's sustainable agriculture. Our literature search was largely limited to studies conducted in Florida.

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Replicated fertility trials with four vegetable crops on the limestone soils of Dade County, Fla., have been conducted for 3 years (1993–94 through 1995–96). The purpose was 1) to determine crop nutrient requirements, 2) to calibrate a soil testing model, and 3) to develop additional information for plant sap quick tests. The crops included snap beans, Irish potatoes, sweet corn, and malanga (a.k.a. yautia or tannia, Xanthosoma sagittifolium Schott). Another two field demonstrations using reduced rates of phosphorus on tomatoes were conducted in 1995–96. The involvement of the local fertilizer industry in these trials and grower outreach efforts will be discussed.

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A baseline survey was conducted to determine grower fertilizer management practices for five vegetable crops: beans, malanga, potatoes, sweet corn, and squash. This was done in conjunction with a 3-year replicated fertility trial with four vegetable crops (1993–94 through 1995–96) in the Homestead area. Questions included: fertilizer rates and timing, source(s) of fertilizer recommendations, soil and tissue testing, irrigation, changes in practices, summer cover crops, rock plowing, spacing, and type of fertilizer used. Survey results will be presented.

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