BMPs help protect the environment while helping growers succeed

07/14/2014 11:57:00 AM
Kelly Morgan and Stewart Swanson

This change to drip has the potential to reduce water consumption by nearly 2 billion gallons per week.  Educational programs are being developed to help growers learn how to efficiently manage these drip systems. 

click image to zoompotatoesCourtesy Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer ServicesFertilizer banding in potato production

Potatoes grown in the Tri-County Agricultural Area of North Florida have traditionally been fertilized by pre-plant incorporated broadcast applications. 

This practice tends to waste fertilizer because nutrients invariable find their way into the water furrows and ends of the fields where potatoes will not be grown.

Over the past few years, IFAS on-farm research has demonstrated the uniformity and value of banding fertilizer into each row of potatoes.  

Banding increases the fertilizer use efficiency and allows growers to reduce the amount of fertilizer that is applied to a field for crop use. 

Combined with not fertilizing field edges and water furrows, fertilizer applications have been reduced by about 25 percent. 

The technology has had overwhelming adoption rates with more than 30 percent—6,000 acres—of the potato acreage converting from broadcast to banding. 

This trend is expected to continue over the next few years. The concept of banding instead of broadcasting fertilizer is also spreading to other area vegetable producers, including those growing cabbage and leafy greens.

Dr. Kelly Morgan is an associate professor of soil and water sciences at the Southwest Florida Research and Education Center in Immokalee. He can be reached at Stewart Swanson is a consultant on the BMP Project.

There’s more to come. Watch for the August issue of Citrus + Vegetable Magazine, which will have more BMP success stories.

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