Nursery Growers Demonstrating Ways To Conserve Nutrient Inputs

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A recent study of fertilizer placement techniques in Ontario nursery grown nursery stock has shown that sub-surface applications of fertilizer can not only reduce the required amount of fertilizer inputs, but also help conserve nutrients in the crop. 

An Ontario group of researchers (Phytoserv, OMAFRA, Soil Resource Group, VRIC) and innovative nursery growers recently collaborated to undertake a study of fertilizer placement techniques and their effect on nutrient conservation in nursery production systems.

The research investigated the use of surface-applied and sub-surface applied fertilizer to container grown nursery crops.  Although top-applied fertilizers resulted in conservative release of nutrients, it appears as though sub-surface applications of controlled release fertilizers (e.g. dibbling), can help further conserve nutrients for root uptake.

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The group also demonstrated the use of cohesion additives to help adhere top-dressed fertilizer products to the surface of the media.  The cohesion additives helped to keep the fertilizer in place which in turn, prevented fertilizer spillage that can happen after container blow down.

The topic of nutrient conservation is a very important one and all agricultural producers are looking at nutrient and water use and are continuously implementing cost-effective ways to reduce their environmental footprint.

Ontario nursery growers have been investigating sub-surface fertilizer placement techniques for years, thanks to pioneering research conducted by Dr. Calvin Chong and Dr. Glen Lumis of the University of Guelph.

More research and development will be required to help the industry incorporate these nutrient conservation techniques into commercial production systems.  Sub-surface application may not be appropriate for some nursery crops because of crop growth stage and potting labour.  Post-planting application methods and automation need to be developed to help make sub-surface applications more economically efficient and feasible for commercial production systems.

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More research and development will be required to help the industry incorporate these nutrient conservation techniques into commercial production systems.  Sub-surface application may not be appropriate for some nursery crops because of crop growth stage and potting labour.  Post-planting application methods and automation needs to be developed to help make sub-surface applications more economically efficient and feasible for commercial production systems.  This study was supported by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

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