Tuesday, March 28, 2000, 1:38:25 PM, you wrote in reference to my
>> 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.
SD> Here we learn that you are talking about mycorrhizae, which is used
SD> quite differently than field-applied microbial products.
That is correct.
SD> In the example of California strawberries that Sal posted, this work
SD> done by Elaine Ingham and Frank Sanses was based on the use of a
SD> microbially-inoculated compost, that additionally, had mycorrhizae
SD> inoculant added to the strawberry plug medium.
My intention has been to use it mainly on the propagative material,
but adding to compost may be worth a shot. That would have to be done
*before* the plants fill up the field.
What inoculant was used with the strawberries? (Sal)?
SD> By shifting the soil foodweb to favor a fungal-dominated
SD> environment similar to a forest-based ecoystem where Fragaria are
SD> native, the yields from strawberry plug plots yielded similarly to
SD> methyl bromide treated plots.
Very interesting. It makes one think about why poisons are used
instead - unless one looks at the benefits that concentrate on the
inputs production side (at a high cost to everyone else).
SD> In other words, by favoring a foodweb that provides natural
SD> protection and/or immunity against the dreaded disease complex
SD> that necessitates the use of a soil fumigant in the first place,
SD> this research shows that microbial inoculation is part of advanced
SD> organic agriculture rather than foo foo dust agriculture.
Correct, and well said. This approach is basic to that way we
understand things and what we are trying to do. The word organic could
be substituted for alternative, ecological, biological, IPM and
probably others, also.
SD> Past sanet posts contain the web links to this information, archived
SD> at USDA's Methyl Bromide Alternatives website. The data was
SD> also published in proceedings of international conference on methyl
SD> bromide alternatives.
Fine, I'll check it out. (A url would have been helpful). But here
we're replacing fungicides.
SD> Mycorrhize incoulation for apple trees? Might work, might not.
According to P. 11 (El Efecto de las fitohormonas microbianas sobre
las plantas by Israel Santin-Ortega & Maria Valdes) of the Nov. - Dec.
1998 issue of "Investigación Hoy" of Mexico's Instituto Politecnico
Nacional, "Pitholitus tinctorius ha sido utilizado con gran exito en
Estados Unidos para enraizar patrones de manzano".
I assume the reference is valid.
SD> For sure, mycorrhize can be an important inoculant to the nursery mix
SD> especially for trees intended for disturbed sites. This is a regular
SD> feature of ecological restoration work.
SD> But on a rich, humusy soil -- presumably well-stocked
SD> and actively functioning biologically -- will mycorrhizal inoculants
SD> have extra benefit and under what circumstances?
That's what we're going to find out. Tropical soils are not that
humusy nor deep. And pineapple is currently one of the crops most
thoroughly dependent on synthetic inputs, although most landowners and
wealthy pineapple growers (not the ones that we work with, that have
to rent land to grow on), also run cattle that take advantage of the
pineapple crop (provided by the poor farmer who rented the land in
many if not most cases. So some residues are recycled.
We'll be working with fallow land that's probably been used as pasture
but I don't assume we won't need doing this. The govt manual
recommends fumigating all propagative material against fungus. I don't
believe that their approach is valid. There a number of false
assumptions at work here.
What we want to do is change the pineapple production system, and
we're going to replace the elements that don't fit in a biological
system with biological ones (ones is not number related here).
We will also account for the true food web (to use your term) as we
By producing our own inoculants, we lower costs, learn a new
technology that will have other applications, and may wind up
providing it for other growers. By working with living organisms and
providing for their needs, they do the job for us. To what degree?
That's just what our goal is - to find out. We obviously on more solid
ground that those who fail to see these things, who simply go by the
book, buy the little bottles and don't look for relationships.
There will be govt. oversight to all this, since we want the
technology validated in order to get bigger plantings financed. But we
will be calling the shoots, not them (they're witnesses). And sanet
can help provide direction to it.
SD> How many more dollars per bushel of apples per year would it take
SD> for a conventional grower to switch to organic production?
The only apples in question are pineapples.
SD> This is a good question. If you are a conventional grower, and we
SD> offered you $5 more per bushel, $10 more per bushel, $20 more per
SD> bushel, $40 more per bushel to go organic, what would it take?
SD> Would you find a way to make mycorrhizal inoculants useful in apple
SD> production, to use compost teas for foliar niche management and
SD> control apple scab, to use cover crops in the orchard instead of bare
SD> soil, to make compost instead of applying commercial fertilizer?
Green, W.D., J Manning & R. Cooley. "Effect of the Ectomycorrhizal
Fungus Pitholitus tinctorius and Auxin Rooting Formation on growth of
Cortland Apple Trees" Science 17, number 4 (1982)
SD> Conversely, if $5 or $10 more per bushel ain't worth the trouble in a
SD> long shot, should we bemoan the lack of enthusiasm amongst farmers
SD> for a transition to organics? Will the marketplace ensure this
SD> premium will be there in 3-4-5-6-7-8 years?
Steve, we are out to produce better pineapple at a lower cost using
environmentally sane technology, which will be consumed by people who
appreciate that plus the fact that fewer middlemen will be involved
and more benefit given to the farmer. There are consumers that care
about these things.
From having been involved with the market for quite a few years and
being aware of the competition, I'd say our chances of getting decent
results are more than good.
SD> I am curious to know how many more dollars per bushel of soybeans
SD> a Mississippi Delta farmer would need before a transition to organics
SD> would occur. Anybody got a spreadsheet with this survey data?
The organic market forms part of the overall picture, but this is
probably years off and it's far from the whole story. Pineapple is a
middle term crop - 2 years are involved. And we will be busy
identifying the best alternatives to conventional technologies,
replacing them as we go. The organic market is part of a larger
picture anyway and understanding that will help anyone understand
where organics is going - and that is happening in more than one
direction. Diversity is where it's at anyway.
This is not a short term project and the economic aspects can be
calculated in many ways. One thing is for sure: The benefits will not
go the same people as usual, and that in itself makes it worth doing
(the right - i.e. more deserving people will benefit, the ones who get
involved and need it most - without screwing over the ecosystem). I've
saying all along that the idea is to work *with* plants and people,
not against them.
SD> The Mississippi-Louisiana-Arkansas Delta farmers have asked for
SD> the organic information, but what will we tell them about the costs
SD> and techniques of organic weed, bug, and disease control when the
SD> dollar returns for soybean and corn are at such low prices?
SD> Steve Diver
I don't know. What *we* do is to put together given crops, people,
technology and markets. And in terms of crops, at this point, in
general terms that means perishable, tropical and off season fruits
and vegetables that can be sold in full load quantities in foreign
markets (like where your are), along with a few things that can be
industrialized or justify paying air freight for smaller quantities.
No soy una monedita de oro, para caerle bien a todos.
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