News Feed Forums Vegetables Iron absent from foliar materials for market gardening program. Reply To: Iron absent from foliar materials for market gardening program.

  • Nina Meiers

    April 2, 2021 at 5:48 pm

    Hi Colin,

    I’m new to sap analysis, as I’m a strawberry grower. I have wondered about the viability of market gardeners with the volume of crops they grow, but can I suggest this –

    Select your most profitable crop, and trial it fortnightly for 6 weeks
    Select your most troublesome crop, and trial that fortnightly for 6 weeks.
    Select the field with the most insect/bug pressure and trial that fortnightly for 6 weeks.

    I take photos, and visually inspect the plants on a regular basis.

    In our cover crop field, we’re trialing broccoli and cauliflower as a natural fumigant, and we have some test rows, some we have a bacterial mix we dip each seedling into before planting, as a comparison as the changes in our strawberry yields and vigour this year on the rows which had a bacterial mix and planted further apart, are simply beyond explaining to people because they think we’re crazy and we have no real street creds like the seasoned farmers, but the yields, the size of the plant, the continuous cycle of new leaves, flowers and fruit set, because we’ve monitored nutrition so well, we have managed powdery mildew and excessive rain damage.

    We send our fruit further because it has better shelf life, meaning we have more control over the prices, when there is competition, but the aroma, colour and flavour are our selling points.

    The reason I say this is because the change in yields is hard to comprehend because it’s so significant. You can’t amend the soil, so all you can do is look at the plant health or cycle in which it make decisions, and sap analysis gives you the quickest route to identifying shortcomings and adjust whether through fertigation or through foliar spray.

    We make up our own fertiliser mix, based solely on the outcomes of sap analysis, and I cannot tell you in enough words, the difference in yield, plant growth and physical plant structure.

    We haven’t done a sap analysis for a while, because we’re now preparing our next years fields, and the sap analysis we were doing is done in the same each time for comparison and that field will be retired for resting next season but we’ve made the decision to leave in for three seasons, but once we do, it will be weekly to fortnightly for some time until we feel confident we’re at the point of balance. But to be honest, the plants will tell you. There is a vigour in them because they’re not looking for nutrition at any point. You’re supplying it.

    Given we’re certified organic, and we have no fungicides, pesticides or herbicides on our farm, we’ve had to focus on nutrition only, so our best defence has been knowledge of what the plant needs.

    Like I said – I’ve often wondered how market gardeners go. I am in awe of those who can do this given it’s such a busy cycle, but I’m urging you to just even select one good field/crop and do some testing on that and review the differences. They will be outstanding.

    What we do though is only fertigation. We are not setup for foliar spray and I’m still nervous about the affect on our strawberries, given they are sensitive little things and remind us quickly when we’re off track. Fertigation does cost a little more and foliar is quicker to get the responses.

    My husband Andrew, thanks me regularly that I’ve encouraged him to take this route, and has become incredibly aware of what’s around in the field, and feels much more confident when he fertilises that he can solve most problems. (except pickers – they’re a forever problem).

    So much to this point have we had plant vigour, we are now going to plant them another 5cm apart allowing for plant size and growth. This is a bit of a head twist in my opinion, based on typical growing methods I’ve read, but I’m pretty sure it was a discussion I heard @john.kempf in a podcast talking to someone about the rice yields, whereby they planted less, but got more yields because roots had more place to grow, that started this little thought, back to our strawberries.

    I wanted to share this with you to see if instead of trying to eat the elephant – the 30 varieties, that you just trialed a small section and reviewed and assessed it, because while each plant may need different forms of nutrition, I think the understanding of biology is that in the soil and roots you need certain things happening at certain times to get that photosynthesis happening at the right time and those micro nutrients can and do make all the difference.

    Anyway – that’s my two cents worth as new certified organic farmer, looking for solution through nutrition because I have seen the results and I will never, ever go through another season without sap analysis due to the results. I hope this gives you some insight and more thinking about the value of sap analysis.

    I’ve just uploaded an example photo of our mixed (premium and seconds) which I deliver in bulk to stores who pack for their customers.