Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Organic apple orchard floor maintenance techniques

08.09.2009
Mulching, flaming and 'Swiss sandwich' techniques analyzed

Successful organic apple farming literally starts from the ground up.

Maintaining a healthy orchard floor is the key to preventing weeds and keeping soil healthy. Logically, finding effective methods to increase production and marketability of organic apples is critically important to growers who have to deal with pests and disease without the use of conventional tools available to nonorganic growers.

Dario Stefanelli of Michigan State University's Department of Horticulture led a study to evaluate three types of rootstocks of 'Pacific Gala' apples. Published in HortScience, the study compared three methods of orchard floor maintenance.

The first was an alfalfa hay mulch treatment, applied by hand in the spring and fall, to prevent weed growth and maintain soil moisture. Drawbacks of this method include the expense, maintenance, risk of rodent damage, possible nutrient leaching, and incubation of some weed species.

The second treatment was a flame burning technique in which a propane burner was used to heat the weeds under the tree canopy. The cost of this method was low, however the risks of fire, branch injury, and damage to plastic irrigation systems increased.

The third method is known as the Swiss sandwich system, which leaves a strip of vegetation to grow naturally in the tree row with two shallow tilled strips on each side. The grassy strip offers insects a space to live without bothering the trees and acts as ground cover, which improves soil condition and adds nutrients. The tilled strips help to reduce competition for water and nutrients. And, because there is no need to mow, this method is easy to maintain. However, this method, without additional fertilization, resulted in less suitable growing conditions.

No differences were noted between rootstocks with the alfalfa hay mulch treatment, though it did improve the appearance of the trees. It also created the most favorable soil conditions for growing 'Pacific Gala' trees. Trees on the Supporter 4 rootstock had the highest growth values, while there were no significant differences between the other two rootstocks. Rootstock was not a factor in crop levels of mulch-treated trees. The M.9 RN 29 rootstock was the most productive using the Swiss sandwich system and the flame treatments. The other two rootstocks' results were the same for both systems.

According to Stefanelli, the results suggest "M.9 RN 29 and the low-cost [Swiss sandwich system] are the most suitable combination that should be considered by growers who want to plant 'Pacific Gala' under organic protocols in Michigan and related climatic regions."

The complete study and abstract are available on the ASHS Hortscience electronic journal web site: http://hortsci.ashspublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/44/2/263

Founded in 1903, the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) is the largest organization dedicated to advancing all facets of horticultural research, education, and application.

Michael W. Neff | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ashs.org

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Kakao in Monokultur verträgt Trockenheit besser als Kakao in Mischsystemen
18.09.2017 | Georg-August-Universität Göttingen

nachricht Ultrasound sensors make forage harvesters more reliable
28.08.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Zerstörungsfreie Prüfverfahren IZFP

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: LaserTAB: More efficient and precise contacts thanks to human-robot collaboration

At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.

Fraunhofer ILT from Aachen relies on a clever combination of robotics and a laser scanner with new optics as well as process monitoring, which it has developed...

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Fraunhofer ISE Pushes World Record for Multicrystalline Silicon Solar Cells to 22.3 Percent

25.09.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Usher syndrome: Gene therapy restores hearing and balance

25.09.2017 | Health and Medicine

An international team of physicists a coherent amplification effect in laser excited dielectrics

25.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>