Often the most limiting nutrient for plantgrowth Proteins and chlorophyll Necessary for photosynthesis
Reduced growth,smaller leaves Chlorosis (yellowing)greater in olderleaves Common in sandysoils low in organicmatter Over-irrigation Easily leached fromthe root zone.
Deficiency seen aspurpling of leafveins. Important in rootand seeddevelopment. More efficient in thepresence of nitrogen. Rarely deficient inwestern soils, exceptwhen soils are cold.P-deficiency in pepper plantedtoo early in the season
Movement ofsugars in plants Increases size andquality of fruitsand vegetables Leaches readily Deficiency causesmarginal leafchlorosis of olderleaves Potassium deficiency in soybean
Liquid Mostly quick-release Last 3 to 4 weeks Most areconcentrates – mixwith water Apply with hose-end sprayer or awatering can
Granular Apply dry and water in Quick-release, ex.Ammonium sulfateSlow-release Sulfur-coated, lasts forabout 8 weeks. Polymer-coated, lasts forabout 12 weeks.
Synthetic Organic Provide a quicklyreleased source ofnutrients ondemand Can cause leaching Fertilizer burn Timing isimportant! Goal is to enhancesoil for beneficialmicrobes that candecompose organicmatter. Slowly released Lower nutrientvalues Look for certifiedorganic products.
Leafy Root + Fruit-bearing Use a balancedfertilizer early in theseason. 10-10-10 16-16-16 Use a low N completefertilizer early in theseason: 6-24-24 6-12-18 8-16-16Heavy feeders require a SECOND fertilization with N during the season:Corn, garlic, onions, potatoesFIRST:Avoid N fertilization of fruit-bearing crops too close to flowering.
Apply fertilizer 3 to6 inches to one sideof plant or row. Water it in. Keep dry fertilizeroff the leaves.
“an ecological production managementsystem that promotes and enhancesbiodiversity, biological cycles and soilbiological activity”
Organic sources of N Organic sources of P Bat guano Blood meal Cottonseed meal Fish emulsion Fish meal Bone meal Rock phosphates Kelp meal SeaweedOrganic sources of KComposts and manures are good naturalfertilizers for Nevada soils.
Usually planted in the “down” season(such as winter) – not harvested forconsumption Used for soil enhancement (called“Green Manure”)
Increase soil organicmatter Increase nitrogenbalance in the soil Suppress pests(weeds) Provide habitat forbeneficial insects Enhance soilbiological activity Control erosion Prevent compactionWhat do you want your cover crop to do?
Legumes:◦ Alfalfa◦ Beans – all kinds◦ Clover◦ Lentil◦ Peas Interplanted withheavy feeders:◦ Cabbage◦ Cauliflower◦ Celery◦ Corn◦ Cucumbers◦ Leeks◦ Lettuce◦ Spinach◦ Squash◦ TomatoesInterplanted rows of corn with clover
In rotation: 2- or 3-year Winter cover crop Summer cover crop Strip cropping IntercroppingCowpea as a summer cover toincrease soil nitrogen levelsand suppress weeds
Mowed cereal ryeas a mulch tosuppress weeds. Use with vegetablesthat have largeseeds or aretransplants. Cut at flowering butbefore seed set.
Drought tolerant Excellent mineralizedN provider Grows slowly in fallbut resumes in spring Smothers springweeds Enhances soil moistureretention Sprawling vines can bea challengeWinter annualZone 3 - 6Great in an area where tomatoes or corn will be grown!
Early September Seeding rate of 1-2 lb./1000 ft2 Requires inoculationwith Rhizobium Comes as dry powdermixed with finelyground peat moss
Winter annual thatmay die in winter incolder parts ofNevada But, establishesquickly If winter-killed, noneed to pull up… Can combine withwinter ryeSeed Austrian pea at 2-4 lb./1000 ft2Winter annualZone 6
Greater control ofwinter annual weeds More organic matterresidue Provides proper C:Nratio to speeddecomposition in soil Use 40-60% grain fullrate and 80% legumefull rateHairy vetch with winter rye
Hardiest of cover crops Rapid establishment Deep fibrous rooting Builds organic matter Breaks up compaction Allelopathy suppressesweed seeds Often grown with alegumeWinter annualZone 4Seed at 2.5 lb/1000 ft2
Fall-seeded brassica Forms thick, white taproots 8-14 inches long! Nicknamed “biodrill” or“tillage radish” Seed in late August, willwinter-kill in much ofNevada Traps soil nutrients,breaks up compaction,biofumigant properties(against nematodes)
The best time to planta cover crop is anytimea bed is not covered byfood crop or mulch. Make a furrow for largeseeds Scatter and rake insmaller seeds Tamp the bed toensure good soilcontact and water in.Nature abhors a vacuum. Bare groundinvites weeds and represents a lostopportunity to improve the soil.
Choose cropsappropriate for ourarea. Irrigate onlyenough to avoidplant stress. Use drip irrigationto avoid waterwaste. Irrigate less inwinter. While buckwheat is a fast-growingsummer annual cover crop, itrequires more water than is efficientfor our region.
Incorporate themback into your soil
Tilling – avoid deepmechanical tillage Mowing Remove plants and useas compost or mulch Pen chickens in the field(except hairy vetch –seed is poisonous tochickens) Incorporate cover crop 3weeks before food cropis plantedTurning in a cover crop by hand is atedious job. Top mowing or use of agarden tiller can facilitate the process.
Chickens can remove a cover crop in 2 weeks. BUT don’t letchickens graze in hairy vetch that has done to seed.
Perennials – alfalfa,hairy indigo, redclover* Summer annuals –garden pea, mustard,turnip, barley, oats,sorghum-sudangrass Winter annuals –Austrian winter pea,hairy vetch, winterwheat, winter rye* Can be weedy in a garden settingMedium red clover*
Interplant heavyfeeders with lessdemanding crops.Peas growing vertically behind 3cauliflower plants. Growing in-frontof cauliflowers are leeks, carrotsand lettuces.
Compost tea is not thedark-colored solutionthat leaks from thebottom of the compostpile (do not spray thison food crops!) Compost tea is theextract of compostmade by suspendingcompost in a barrel ofwater (aerated orunaerated) for a shortperiod of time (up to aweek).
Provides nutrients (amounts and typesdepend upon ingredients used to make thecompost) Disease suppression (maybe?)◦ 50% less powdery mildew on grapes◦ Slight reduction of gray mold◦ INCREASE in downy mildewRodale Institute and Pennsylvania State University, recentunpublished work
Improve soilstructure Help retain nutrients Help retain moisture Improve soil aeration Lower soil pHCompost does all of these things!
Use only potable water. Sanitize all equipment. Use only compost that has maintained a tempof 131 F for 3 days (use hot compostingmethod). Must be used within 24 hours of making it. Avoid additives (esp. simple sugars likemolasses).Do not use “nutrient-enhanced” compost teas onfood crops!