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lemons in the greenhouse

May 2021 - Doing Data at The Garden

This blog post is the first in a series to share what we are doing,

and what we are learning because...

We received an Innovations Agriculture Canada Grant for our study:

'Leaf Sap Analysis as a Tool for Nutrient Management of Cold-Hardy Citrus and Avocado'

What and why?

Climate change is causing rapid shifts in crop suitability across the province, and the world for that matter. To protect future food security, we need to develop effective management practices to increase our crops’ resilience and nutrient density.

The Garden’s cold-hardy citrus and avocado orchard provides a unique opportunity to study the effectiveness of management practices for crop resilience.

Pollination, fruit sizing and ripening often occur over the winter when soils are cool, nutrient-cycling by the soil microbial community is slow, and root nutrient uptake is constrained (Grossnickle 46 Lahti et al. 47). With no supplementary light and minimal heating (1°C minimum), this study will monitor crop health using leaf sap and soil biology analysis, both on-farm and with laboratories. Test results will inform management practices throughout the study.

Plant sap analysis is a recent technology that is quickly being recognized by commercial growers as an accurate assessment of plant health, and a reliable indicator of issues obstructing the plants’ ability to function at capacity. With rapid changes in growing conditions due to climate extremes, the ability to mediate conditions for plant health in a timely fashion is imperative.

We hope to demonstrate that increased soil microbial biomass correlates with leaf sap results approaching nutrient targets (ppm). This in effect would reduce the dependency on fertilizer inputs and increase pest and disease resistance.

The ultimate goal is to grow resilient crops and increase soil health not only to mediate climate fluctuations, but also to increase the production of nutrient dense food.

We've started a new YouTube channel for this project.

Kayla Buttress at work.


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