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Research Project: Sustainable Production and Pest Management Practices for Nursery, Greenhouse, and Protected Culture Crops

Location: Application Technology Research

Title: Tinkering for Profit: Focus on Fertilizer Part II

item Owen Jr, James - Jim
item BROWN, FOREST - Virginia Tech
item NIEMIERA, ALEX - Virginia Tech

Submitted to: Popular Publication
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/14/2023
Publication Date: 2/8/2024
Citation: Owen Jr, J.S., Brown, F., Niemiera, A. 2024. Tinkering for Profit: Focus on Fertilizer Part II. Nursery Management. 40(2):10-12.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Our approach to mineral nutrition is ruled by the barrel analogy of Liebig's Law of the Minimum, which states that the limiting mineral nutrient (or essential input) will limit plant growth and health. We as an industry may have gone too far, shoring up each barrel stave (i.e., nutrient) in excess, never revisiting the mineral nutrient program as a whole or considering excessive application and to what degree. To evaluate your fertility, you can conduct small on farm trials on a few important representative crops with different nutritional needs. These should be low-risk trials that could result in reduced costs, minimize shrinkage, and ensure timely production. This article details considerations when optimizing your fertilizer program. Once you have optimized, stay diligent in revisiting your fertilizers if the substrate, water source, irrigation scheduling, or fertilizer formulation are altered. Happy testing!