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Research Project: Integrated Water and Nutrient Management Systems for Sustainable and High-Quality Production of Temperate Fruit and Nursery Crops

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Title: Effects of geotextile landscape fabric on soil nutrient availability in an organic planting of ‘Marion’ trailing blackberry

item VALENZUELA-ESTRADA, LUIS - Oregon State University
item Bryla, David
item STRIK, BERNADINE - Oregon State University

Submitted to: International Rubus Ribes Symposium
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/19/2015
Publication Date: 6/21/2015
Citation: Valenzuela-Estrada, L.R., Bryla, D.R., Strik, B. 2015. Effects of geotextile landscape fabric on soil nutrient availability in an organic planting of ‘Marion’ trailing blackberry. Proceedings of International Rubus Ribes Symposium; June 21-24; Ashville, NC. p. 57-58.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Geotextile landscape fabric, often referred to as weed mat, is becoming a popular option for weed control in many fruit crops, particularly for organic production. The present study was conducted in 2014 to evaluate the effects of landscape fabric relative to hand weeding on soil nutrient availability in a mature organic planting of ‘Marion’ trailing blackberry. The field was planted in 2010 and certified organic in 2012. A 1.4-m-wide layer of black, porous geotextile landscape fabric was centered on a row of four plants per plot prior to planting, and small openings were cut for each plant. Weeds were removed using scuffle hoes from the hand-weeded plots. The plants were irrigated using a single line of drip and were fertigated biweekly from April through June with fish fertilizer. Soil nutrients were measured using ion-exchange resin membranes installed at three times over the growing season, including early April, mid-May, and late June. Four anion and four cation membranes were installed vertically for 2 weeks on each date at a distance of 5 and 15 cm from the drip emitters, as well as at 30 cm on the last date. After 3 months of fertigation, soil P, Ca, Mg, S, Fe, Cu, Mn, and Al availability increased, regardless of the method of weed control, while soil N and K availability decreased in both treatments, and soil B and Zn availability remained unchanged. The availability of most nutrients also decreased with distance from the drip emitters, except for soil K, which, on average, was greater at 15 cm than at 5 cm from the emitters. Landscape fabric increased soil temperature by up to 3–5 degrees C relative to hand weeding, and increased the availability of soil nutrients, including nitrate-N, K, and Mg in early April; Fe, B, and Mn in mid-May; and K and Cu in late June. However, the fabric also reduced the availability of several nutrients, including soil Ca and S in mid-May; and Mg in late June. Clearly, the use of landscape fabric can affect the availability of soil nutrients and, therefore, is an important consideration for nutrient management.