> But we do want to look into making our own inoculants for the
> propagative material. The fungus I was looking at is Pitholithus
> tinctorius. It's been used in the US to aid apple root formation.
Here we learn that you are talking about mycorrhizae, which is used
quite differently than field-applied microbial products.
In the example of California strawberries that Sal posted, this work
done by Elaine Ingham and Frank Sanses was based on the use of a
microbially-inoculated compost, that additionally, had mycorrhizae
inoculant added to the strawberry plug medium. By shifting the soil
foodweb to favor a fungal-dominated environment similar to a
forest-based ecoystem where Fragaria are native, the yields from
strawberry plug plots yielded similarly to methyl bromide treated
plots. In other words, by favoring a foodweb that provides
natural protection and/or immunity against the dreaded disease
complex that necessitates the use of a soil fumigant in the first
place, this research shows that microbial inoculation is part of
advanced organic agriculture rather than foo foo dust agriculture.
Past sanet posts contain the web links to this information, archived
at USDA's Methyl Bromide Alternatives website. The data was
also published in proceedings of international conference on methyl
Mycorrhize incoulation for apple trees? Might work, might not.
For sure, mycorrhize can be an important inoculant to the nursery mix
especially for trees intended for disturbed sites. This is a regular
feature of ecological restoration work.
But on a rich, humusy soil -- presumably well-stocked
and actively functioning biologically -- will mycorrhizal inoculants
have extra benefit and under what circumstances?
How many more dollars per bushel of apples per year would it take
for a conventional grower to switch to organic production?
This is a good question. If you are a conventional grower, and we
offered you $5 more per bushel, $10 more per bushel, $20 more per
bushel, $40 more per bushel to go organic, what would it take?
Would you find a way to make mycorrhizal inoculants useful in apple
production, to use compost teas for foliar niche management and
control apple scab, to use cover crops in the orchard instead of bare
soil, to make compost instead of applying commercial fertilizer?
Conversely, if $5 or $10 more per bushel ain't worth the trouble in a
long shot, should we bemoan the lack of enthusiasm amongst farmers
for a transition to organics? Will the marketplace ensure this
premium will be there in 3-4-5-6-7-8 years?
I am curious to know how many more dollars per bushel of soybeans
a Mississippi Delta farmer would need before a transition to organics
would occur. Anybody got a spreadsheet with this survey data?
The Mississippi-Louisiana-Arkansas Delta farmers have asked for
the organic information, but what will we tell them about the costs
and techniques of organic weed, bug, and disease control when the
dollar returns for soybean and corn are at such low prices?
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