Date of Award

2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Plant and Soil Science

First Advisor

Josef Gorres

Abstract

For sustained production, organic agriculture depends on plant needs being synchronized with the release of nutrients from organic amendments during decomposition within the soil. Because decomposition is strongly dependent on soil moisture and temperature, nutrient needs may not always be met as planned or synchronous with plant need. Unlike conventional agriculture, fast acting amendments are not readily available. Much of the evidence that vermicompost benefits crop production comes from studies on seed germination and production of starts in greenhouses. Yet, there is a dearth of information derived from field studies. Soil, soil and water nitrogen, plant development, and marketable yield were investigated by implementing field plot trials with both starts grown in greenhouses (Experiment 1) and directly seeded (Experiment 2) crops to test hypotheses on fertility, economics and environmental impacts.

Results from Experiment 1 showed that plant production was dramatically increased both in the greenhouse as well as subsequently in the field for vermicompost treatments and directly correlates to economic differences. Results from Experiment 2 show that plant production differences between compost treatments vary by site. There was no significant difference in soil and soil water NO3-N, NH4-N and Total Inorganic Nitrogen (TIN) among treatments, site or experiment. The timely rate of plant development in greenhouse started VC treatments shows great potential to be the first to market with fresh produce when other treatments are still waiting to transplant.

Language

en

Number of Pages

101 p.