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Stevia: high substrate pH induced iron chlorosis

interveinal chlorosis is Fe-deficiency due to elevated substrate pH levels

Alkaline substrate pH values the cause of the interveinal chlorosis is Fe-deficiency

Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana) has gained popularity as an alternative sweetener because it contains glycosides that are up to 300 times sweeter than white cane sugar. In warmer climates (USDA zones 9-11), it is a perennial herb, but it will not overwinter in areas with more severe winters and in those locations, it is treated like an annual. A group led by Dr. David Shew of North Carolina State University conducted extensive field trials to investigate its use as an alternative crop. NC State also a breeding program developing new cultivars
suitable to the hot and humid summer conditions prevalent in the Southern U.S.

All plants have an optimal pH range outside of which plants will struggle. At higher substrate pH levels nutrients such as Fe, manganese (Mn), zinc (Zn), and copper (Cu) become less available to the plant. In most cases plants with abnormally high pH values will experience Fe-deficiency symptoms. Iron is an immobile element in the plant and in result cannot be translocated from lower foliage to meet the plants needs in the new developing portions of the plant.
Thus, when attempting to diagnose Fe-deficiency it is important to account for the location of the symptomology to help eliminate other nutrient deficiencies. In this case of stevia, the plants upper portions are exhibiting yellowing and interveinal chlorosis (Fig. 3). Thus, with
the combination of symptom location, and the alkaline substrate pH values the cause of the interveinal chlorosis is Fe-deficiency due to elevated substrate pH levels.

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Strawberry substrate production systems: a review by Omafra

Growers have many options when it comes to establishing strawberry substrate production. OMAFRA’s Erica Pate reviews different container options, tabletop and suspended systems, and different structures used for strawberry substrate production.

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Fertilizers system

Fermenting food waste to improve crop growth


There’s a better end for used food than taking up space in landfills and contributing to global warming.

​Beneficial bacteria flourished in citrus growing systems treated with fermented waste by-products. UC Riverside scientists have discovered fermented food waste can boost bacteria that increase crop growth, making plants more resistant to pathogens and reducing carbon emissions from farming.

“Beneficial microbes increased dramatically when we added fermented food waste to plant growing systems,” said UCR microbiologist Deborah Pagliaccia, who led the research. “When there are enough of these good bacteria, they produce antimicrobial compounds and metabolites that help plants grow better and faster.”

Since the plants in this experiment were grown in a greenhouse, the benefits of the waste products were preserved within a closed watering system. The plant roots received a fresh dose of the treatment each time they were watered.

Sustainable cycle
“This is one of the main points of this research,” Pagliaccia said. “To create a sustainable cycle where we save water by recycling it in a closed irrigation system and at the same time add a product from food waste that helps the crops with each watering cycle.”

These results were recently described in a paper published in the journal Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems. Food waste poses a serious threat to the planet. In the U.S. alone, as much as 50% of all food is thrown away. Most of this waste isn’t recycled, but instead, takes up more than 20% of America’s landfill volume.

This waste represents not only an economic loss, but a significant waste of freshwater resources used to produce food, and a misuse of what could otherwise feed millions of low-income people who struggle with food security.

Alternative uses of food waste
To help combat these issues, the UCR research team looked for alternative uses for food waste. They examined the byproducts from two kinds of waste that is readily available in Southern California: beer mash — a byproduct of beer production — and mixed food waste discarded by grocery stores.

Both types of waste were fermented by River Road Research and then added to the irrigation system watering citrus plants in a greenhouse. Within 24 hours, the average population of beneficial bacteria were two to three orders of magnitude greater than in plants that did not receive the treatments, and this trend continued each time the researchers added treatments.

UCR environmental scientist Samantha Ying and her team then studied the carbon dynamics and nutrients including nitrogen in the soil of the treated crops. The analysis showed a spike in the amount of carbon in irrigation water after being treated with waste products, followed by a sharp decrease, suggesting the beneficial bacteria used the available carbon to replicate.

Pagliaccia explained that this finding has an impact on the growth of the bacteria and on the crops themselves. “If waste byproducts can improve the carbon to nitrogen ratio in crops, we can leverage this information to optimize production systems,” she said.

No Salmonella
Another finding of note is that neither the beer mash nor the mixed food waste products tested positive for Salmonella or other pathogenic bacteria, suggesting they would not introduce any harmful element to food crops.

“There is a pressing need to develop novel agricultural practices,” said UCR plant pathologist and study co-author Georgios Vidalakis. “California’s citrus, in particular, is facing historical challenges such as Huanglongbing bacterial disease and limited water availability,” said Georgios Vidalakis, a UCR plant pathologist.

The paper’s results suggest using these two types of food waste byproducts in agriculture is beneficial and could complement the use synthetic chemical additives by farmers — in some cases relieving the use of such additives altogether. Crops would in turn become less expensive.

Shell byproducts
Pagliaccia and Ying also recently received a California Department of Food and Agriculture grant to conduct similar experiments using almond shell byproducts from Corigin Solutions to augment crops. This project is also supported with funding from the California Citrus Nursery Board, Corigin Solutions, and by the California Agriculture and Food Enterprise.

“Forging interdisciplinary research collaborations and building public-private sector partnerships will help solve the challenges facing global agri-food systems,” said UCR co-author Norman Ellstrand, a distinguished professor of genetics.

When companies enable growers to use food waste byproducts for agricultural purposes, it helps move society toward a more eco-friendly system of consumption.

“We must transition from our linear ‘take-make-consume-dispose’ economy to a circular one in which we use something and then find a new purpose for it. This process is critical to protecting our planet from constant depletion of natural resources and the threat of greenhouse gases,” Pagliaccia said. “That is the story of this project.”

For more information:
University of California Riverside

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Fertilizers system

US: New fertilizer adjuvant presented

Verano365® has launched a new adjuvant that improves fertilizer efficiency, benefiting greenhouse growers’ return on investments in applied nutrient inputs. Evofactor™ uses the company’s proprietary technology, OpusMAX™, to promote nutrient availability to plants when it is used with water-soluble fertilizers as part of a regular fertigation schedule.

Evofactor aims to give growers the choice regarding the outcome that’s most valuable to their operation: either a reduction in the amount of applied fertilizer to yield plants of equitable size and health to what they’re producing today; or, increased biomass in crops that receive the same fertilizer rate they’re using currently. Both outcomes result from Evofactor’s intention to make plant nutrition solutions more readily available through localization. OpusMAX creates supramolecular structures of the active ingredients in fertilizers, ultimately delivering highly concentrated nutrients to the plant.

“Evofactor can meet a grower where they are with increased nutrient assimilation,” said David Coorts, technical director at Verano365. “With more nutrients available to the plant, a grower can expect to see increased biomass with their current fertilization program when Evofactor is introduced. Or, if a grower wants to decrease the amount of fertilizer in their operation, the increased nutrient assimilation will allow for that—letting them reduce the applied fertilizer by a corresponding amount, which could be up to 50 percent.”

“Data from Verano365’s internal testing and third-party trials, with tissue analysis conducted by A&L Laboratories, show that Evofactor results in increased nutrient assimilation in plants. Uptake rates of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium saw a significant uptick in the studies”.

A single case (five gallons) of Evofactor could replace up to 750 pounds (30, 25-pounds bags) of water-soluble fertilizer. A single pallet (180 gallons) of Evofactor could replace up to 28,000 pounds (14 pallets) of water-soluble fertilizer, according to David.

“Horticultural growers in the U.S. spend close to $400 million per year on fertilizers, a large part of a grower’s budget,” said Herbert Rabalais, account director of Verano365. “Unfortunately, due to many factors, a significant amount of fertilizer is never assimilated into the plant. Evofactor allows growers to drive more uptake of a fertilizer’s nutrients into the plant, giving them an opportunity to use fertilizers more efficiently, creating a positive impact on a grower’s bottom line and the environment.”

Evofactor is the third product release from the Texas-based start-up in the last 12 months utilizing OpusMax to increase the efficacy of horticultural inputs. Evofactor is patent-pending.

LAUNCH DAY: Evofactor is our latest innovation that allows growers to reduce the use of fertilizer while still growing healthy plants.🌱

— Verano365 (@verano365) January 12, 2021
For more information:
Dawn McKenzie
375 Commerce St., Suite #100
Southlake, TX 76092

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