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Fungi, Predatory Mites and Guardian Plants for Thrips IPM in Organic Greenhouse Ornamentals

This project addressed a serious pest of organic greenhouse production nationally. In Vermont, thrips are the most common reason for organic growers suspending organic practices in their greenhouse crops, fearing the loss of their entire crop to this persistent virus-transmitting pest. Even growers who rely on chemical control find the standard insecticides ineffective due to resistant pest populations. Biological control approaches for thrips will directly benefit organic producers, but will also meet the need of “traditional” growers who seek to produce plants more ecologically.

Enhancement of Biological Control with Insectary Plantings

Beneficial insectary planting is a form of conservation biological control that involves introducing flowering plants into agricultural and horticultural systems to increase nectar and pollen resources required by some natural enemies of insect pests (Landis et al. 2000). Many predatory and parasitic insects rely on pollen and nectar for their survival and reproductive success. Two examples of such insect groups are hoverflies (Diptera: Syrphidae) and several species of predatory and parasitic wasps (Hymenoptera).

Cucumber beetle mass trap development and field evaluation

On most farms, Diabrotica beetles are only severe in certain years, a pattern for which there is yet no analysis. Therefore, for most organic farms these beetles are tolerable in most years. However, in certain seasons some help in reducing numbers may mean the survival of many crops, particularly where beetle damage to seedlings essentially destroys the crop. Example crops are beans and early season cucumbers. Sweet corn is also such a crop, although the damage only interferes with the proportion of kernels which are fertilized.

Genetic population structure of a parasitoid wasp

Parasitoid insects that use different hosts can have a subdivided population structure that corresponds to host use. A subdivided population structure may favor local adaptation of subpopulations to small-scale environmental differences and may promote their genetic divergence.

Using living straw mulch to suppress Colorado potato beetle on potatoes

The use of straw mulch for the suppression of the Colorado potato beetle (CPB) on potatoes has been demonstrated (Zehnder and Hough-Goldstein, 1989). It was suggested that to eliminate the cost of purchasing and transporting commercial grain straw, growers could rotate potatoes with a cover crop suitable for mulch such as wheat, rye, vetch, etc.. The purpose of this study is to demonstrate the feasibility of using such a cover crop as a source of "living mulch." 

The integration of foliar applied seaweed and fish products into the fertility management of organically grown sweet peppers

Organic vegetable growers regularly use sea-based products, such as seaweed extracts and fish emulsions, as foliar fertilizers. The effective use and the economic value of these products in organic agriculture have yet to be verified by scientific research. In these studies, we examined the effects of foliar applied seaweed and fish products on sweet bell peppers grown at three different soil fertility levels

The Effects of Green Manure, Compost, and Feather Meal on Soil Nitrogen Dynamics, Beneficial Soil Microorganisms, and Bell Pepper Yield

Many organic growers utilize a preceding cover crop or diverse types of organic fertilizer materials for fertility management. Cover crops are one of the most economical sources of organic nitrogen and provide additional potential benefits for succeeding crops. Time or market constraints and the need to intensively farm high value land may limit the use of cover crops and increase the need to utilize organic fertilizer sources of plant nutrients.

Analysis of Compost Tea Under Different Stages of Production

In this paper we review some of the pertinent research concerning organic teas, and note that the results of studies on the effects of such teas, especially as a biocide, is quite mixed. We believe this is due to the variable nature of both the organic feed stock and the methods of extraction. We also make some suggestions concerning a protocol for on-site research into the production and use of organic teas with suggestions for controlling feedstock and extractor variables infield experiments.

Monitoring the ability of compost to provide sufficient nitrogen to a bell pepper crop under drip irrigation

This project was designed to evaluate inputs of various rates of compost on the yield and nitrogen status of a crop of peppers. The grower-cooperator on this project makes his own compost and, for the last two years, he has applied from three to ten tons of compost (along with other nitrogen inputs such as cover crops, feather meal and sodium nitrate) to provide for the nitrogen need of his pepper crops.

Sorghum-sudangrass as a cover crop for organic no-till vegetable production and as a hey crop for the organic market

The purpose of this project was to investigate the potential of sorghum sudangrass to serve as both summer cover crop and marketable hay crop preceding no-till production of organic fall cabbage. The original stated objectives of this project were to determine best management practices for a non-leguminous summer cover crop in a no-till fall vegetable production system and to evaluate the efficacy of cover crop mid-season cutting for sale as hay. Based on the results of a 2003 field trial, these objectives were narrowed to the following:

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