Use of high tunnel crop production is expected to increase to meet the growing demand for locally produced fresh market vegetables. These structures have the potential to offer many production benefits; however, managing soil quality in these structures is challenging and work in the area is limited. In this 3-year study, we compared the impacts of organic and inorganic fertility amendments on soil quality, nutrient availability, and the productivity of chard (Beta vulgaris L.) and sweet peppers (Capsicum annuum L.) produced in high tunnel and open field systems. Fertility amendments included a green manure treatment [hairy vetch (Vicia villosa Roth) and dehydrated alfalfa meal], partially composted and pelletized chicken litter, urea, and an unfertilized control. Chard was grown in 2011, and peppers were grown in 2012 and 2013. Soil nutrients, microbial activity, active carbon, pH, electrical conductivity (EC), total soil organic matter, and yield were quantified. Chard yield was lower in the high tunnel compared with the open field in 2011, but pepper yield was greater in the high tunnel in 2012 and 2013. Productivity of chard was lower in the green manure compared with urea in 2011 across high tunnel and open field production systems, but no difference in pepper yield was observed between plants receiving fertility inputs in either 2012 or 2013. Repeated application of green manure and chicken litter resulted in soils with increased microbial activity and active carbon, but the green manure was the only treatment successful at accruing carbon in the high tunnel over time. High tunnel production resulted in greater EC compared with the open field, but levels were not considered inhibitory for chard or peppers. High tunnels can increase vegetable crop productivity in the midwest United States, and organic fertility amendments can improve soil quality as measured by soil microbial activity and active carbon in high tunnel and open field production systems.
Matt A. Rudisill, Bruce P. Bordelon, Ronald F. Turco, and Lori A. Hoagland
Glenn A. Hardebeck, Ronald F. Turco, Richard Latin, and Zachary J. Reicher
Pseudomonas aureofaciens strain Tx-1 is suggested as a biological control for Sclerotinia homoeocarpa (F.T. Bennett) and brown patch (Rhizoctonia solani Kuhn) on golf courses. To overcome application difficulties, a field bioreactor is used to grow Tx-1 daily and then inject into nightly irrigation on the golf course. Though Tx-1 shows some promise for disease control in vitro, it is relatively untested under field conditions. We conducted three field experiments to 1) evaluate the efficacy Tx-1 when applied through an irrigation system for the control of dollar spot and brown patch; 2) determine if there is an interaction between nitrogen fertility or fungicides on efficacy of Tx-1; and 3) determine if Tx-1 can extend the duration of dollar spot control by a single application of fungicide. Nightly applications of Tx-1 through irrigation did not affect brown patch on `Astoria' colonial bentgrass (Agrostis capillaris Sibth.) during the 2 years of our study. Tx-1 reduced dollar spot in `Crenshaw' creeping bentgrass (Agrostis palustris Huds.) by 37% in 1998 compared to non-Tx-1 treatments, but Tx-1 had no effect on dollar spot in 1999. Under low disease pressure, Tx-1 increased the dollar spot control of fungicides by 32% and increased the duration of control by 2.6 days. However, Tx-1 had no effect on fungicide efficacy or duration of control later in the summer when dollar spot pressure was high. Fungicides did not negatively affect Tx-1's control of brown patch or dollar spot, nor did fertilizer regime affect brown patch or dollar spot control by Tx-1. Although delivery of Tx-1 in our studies was optimized, disease control was marginal and occurred only under low disease pressure. Therefore, we conclude Tx-1 has limited practical value for turfgrass disease control on golf courses.