Research on the use of controlled-release fertilizers (CRF) in California vegetableproduction has been conducted for more than 30 years. Since Lorenz et al. (1972) evaluated CRF for potato ( Solanum tuberosum ), tomato ( Solanum lycopersicum
Organic vegetableproduction under glass or in other protected environments, hereto referred as controlled-environment agriculture (CEA) is growing, according to the 2014 census of organic agriculture reported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture
, coupled with the ability to extend N availability over a growing season, has led researchers to examine slow-release N fertilizers in vegetable crop production systems ( Sanchez and Doerge, 1999 ). This review article will summarize that body of work
local organic produce. This increased demand has sparked an interest among conventional vegetable growers in certified organic production techniques and has put increasing demand on existing organic growers. Discussions with organic growers, particularly
The efficacy of using potting media and fertilizers that are alternatives to conventional materials to produce vegetable transplants needs clarification. Bell pepper, onion and watermelon seed were sown in Container Mix, Lawn and Garden Soil, and Potting Soil, which can be used for organic production in greenhouse transplant production. The alternative media were amended with a 1× rate of Sea Tea liquid fertilizer. Comparisons were made to a system using a conventional potting medium, Reddi-Earth, fertilized with a half-strength (0.5×) rate of a soluble synthetic fertilizer (Peters). Watermelon, bell pepper and onion seedlings were lifted at 3, 6, and 8 weeks, respectively, and heights and dry weights determined. Watermelon were sufficiently vigorous for transplanting regardless of which medium and fertilizer was used. Bell pepper and onion at the scheduled lifting were sufficiently vigorous only if produced with conventional materials. Additional experiments were designed to determine the reason(s) for the weaker seedlings when the alternative products were used. Seedlings maintained in transplant trays, in which media amended weekly with Sea Tea were required to be held for up to an additional 34 days before being vigorous enough for transplanting. Six-week-old bell pepper, or 8-week-old onion, seedlings were transferred to Reddi-Earth in pots and supplied with Sea Tea or Peters fertilizer. Bell pepper treated with Peters were taller and heavier, but onions plants were similar in height and weight regardless of fertilizer used. Other pepper seed were planted in Reddi-Earth and fertilized weekly with Sea Tea at 0.5×, 1×, 2×, or 4× the recommended rate, or the 0.5× rate of Peters. There was a positive linear relationship between seedling height and dry weight for seedlings treated with increasing rates of Sea Tea. Other pepper seed were planted in to Potting Soil, or an organically certified potting medium (Sunshine), and fertilized with a 2× or 4× rate of Sea Tea or a 1×, 2×, or 4× rate of an organic fertilizer (Rocket Fuel), or in Reddi-Earth fertilized with a 0.5× rate of Peters. There was a positive linear relationship between the rate of Rocket Fuel and heights and dry weights of bell pepper seedlings. However, even at the highest rate seedlings were not equivalent to those produced with conventional practices. Plants treated with the 4× rate of Sea Tea were similar to those produced using conventional materials. Use of Sunshine potting medium and the 4× rate of Sea Tea will produce bell pepper seedlings equivalent in height and dry weight to those produced using conventional materials. The 4× rate of Rocket Fuel used in Sunshine potting medium will produce adequate bell pepper seedlings. The original poor showing of seedlings in the alternative potting media appears to be due to fertilization with Sea Tea at a rate that does not adequately support seedling development.
Vegetableproduction on small-acreage farms has been gaining popularity in urban or near-large urban cities in recent years and account for 91% of all farms ( U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2007 ). Low-input production practices are an attractive
Organic vegetableproduction in the United States must comply with National Organic Program (NOP) standards [ U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), 2016 ]. The NOP defines compost as the product of a managed process through which microorganisms
Land application and landfilling are the most common destination for biosolids in the United States. When properly treated and managed in accordance with the existing state and federal regulations and standards, biosolids are safe for the environment and human health. Application of biosolids in vegetable production as an organic amendment to soils can increase plant growth and produce comparable crop yields with less inorganic nutrients than a standard program of commercial synthetic fertilizers. No application rate of treated biosolids alone will produce crop yields equivalent to commercial fertilizers. Biosolids may be used in conjunction with fertilizer thus lessening the application rate required. The major obstacles to public acceptance are issues concerning water pollution, risk of human disease, and odors. Additionally, heavy metals are an issue of bias with public perception. To ensure safe use of biosolids to a vegetable production systems the agronomic rate (nutrient requirement of the vegetable crop grown) should be calculated before application for the specific crop.
Conservation tillage is an effective sustainable production system for vegetables. No-till planters and transplanters and strip-till cultivation equipment are presently available for most vegetables. Lack of weed management tools (herbicides, cultivators, etc.) continues to be the cultural practice that limits adaptability of some vegetables to conservation tillage systems. Nitrogen management can be critical when grass winter cover crops are used as a surface residue. Advantages of using conservation tillage include soil and water conservation, improved soil chemical properties, reduction in irrigation requirements, reduced labor requirements, and greater nutrient recycling. However, disadvantages may include lower soil temperatures, which can affect maturity date; higher chemical input (desiccants and post-emergence herbicides); potential pest carryover in residues; and enhancement of some diseases.