BY DEREK CHRISTIANSON
If you have thumbed through a trade publication recently (Acres USA, Country Folks, The Natural Farmer) odds are you’ve seen the increased marketing effort for biological inoculants. As we re-launch a monthly column on vegetable farming in the SEMAP Vine, I decided to take a bit of time sharing my thoughts on the potential beneficial impacts of seed and soil inoculation ahead of propagation season. Most growers are familiar with the use of Rhizobia bacteria inoculants for legumes to help populate nitrogen fixing nodules in the roots, beyond Rhizobia though the understanding and use of inoculants is more variable. Are you considering using mycorhizzal inoculants, trichoderma harzianum, bacillus subtillus, and/or azotobacter this year? In this first installment (second part coming in March) we’ll start to review the why, when, and how of inoculating seed and soil.
Depending on the history of your fields, crop rotation, and tillage practices you may or may not have a healthy and viable population of soil microbes ready for action each growing season. Inoculation can help to repopulate microbes after a fallow rotation; akin to boosting yogurt and fermented foods in your diet after a round of antibiotics. Host specific microbes which work together with a specific variety of plant, like the synergistic relationship between legumes and rhizobia bacteria, are among the most commonly used inoculants in vegetable production, and are typically seed applied. You’ll want to ensure you’re selecting the right type of rhizobia based on the legume you are planting. I was most acutely reminded of this many years ago, when I planted edible soybeans on a field which had been in silage corn for a decade and was rotating out of a vetch cover crop. Amidst the bustle of spring planting, I completely omitted the inoculation of the seed and sure enough come mid-summer I had a very nitrogen starved and yellow tinged soybean crop (the rhizobia which proliferated in the vetch stand, weren’t matched up with soybeans). Back in the day, before commercial inoculants were readily available, farmers would often use soil to inoculate new fields; for example transferring and broadcasting soil from an existing alfalfa field (with it’s resident microbial population) onto a new seeding of alfalfa. Once commercial inoculant sources became inexpensive and widely available, the practice of importing soil fell out of practice. Read more →
Under the Sun is located in North Dighton, MA. We are interviewing for this upcoming season. We grow vegetables, herbs, and bedding plants. We are looking to build a team of people that work togeter and accomplish goals. We require people that can work in all weather conditions. Applicants must be physically able to lift 50 pounds. The work requires a lot of physical labor. Jobs will include seeding, weeding, harvesting, processing, and interacting with customers. If interested please contact through email or phone:
Under the Sun Farm
1050 Williams st.
North Dighton, MA 02764