Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Environmental Effects Of Cold-climate Strawberry Farming

Date:
September 4, 2009
Source:
American Society for Horticultural Science
Summary:
Strawberries are America's fifth-favorite fruit, according to consumption rates. California and Florida grow more than 95% of the nation's strawberries; an additional 12,000 acres are planted in other states. Strawberries are increasingly grown on small-scale farms in direct-to-consumer markets, which are gaining popularity as part of the emerging "local food movement". But how do growing methods designed to ensure successful strawberry production in colder climates affect the environment?

Strawberries are America's fifth-favorite fruit, according to consumption rates. California and Florida grow more than 95% of the nation's strawberries; an additional 12,000 acres are planted in other states. Strawberries are increasingly grown on small-scale farms in direct-to-consumer markets, which are gaining popularity as part of the emerging "local food movement". But how do growing methods designed to ensure successful strawberry production in colder climates affect the environment?

Matthew D. Stevens, currently with North Carolina State University, and a team of USDA-Agricultural Research Services (ARS) researchers developed an experiment to shed light on that question. Stevens conducted the research while working as a graduate student at the USDA-ARS. Three methods of growing strawberries were compared for the study published in HortScience.

The conventional matted row system (CMR) has been the primary method in colder areas. Recently, use of a second method, cold-climate plasticulture (CCP), has increased. Both rely on fumigation and pesticides to protect plants, but use of these elements is being restricted because of environmental concerns. This has led to the development of alternative pest-control measures, including advanced matted row (AMR), the third method tested in the study.

Growing practices were evaluated on sustainability, soil and water conservation, and reduction of movement of soil, nutrients, and pesticides from fields to nearby water sources. Pesticides, nutrients, and soil particles moved from fields to water systems, even through naturally occurring runoff, have significant negative effects for aquatic ecosystems.

In the AMR beds, a cover crop was planted and later mowed down to create a protective vegetative layer, which reduces weed growth. Both CMR and CCP methods use plastic sheeting to limit weeds. As few insects were observed, no insecticides were used. Automated runoff samplers kept track of the water and soil movement. Runoff samples were analyzed for nitrate, ammonium, and pesticide concentrations. Plants were also analyzed for carbon and nitrogen.

Annual mean soil loss was significantly greater in the CMR compared to the AMR, but neither the CMR nor the AMR annual mean soil loss was significantly different from the annual mean soil loss of the CCP in 2002. Though the annual mean soil losses for CMR and AMR were significantly greater than for CCP, the difference between CMR and AMR was not significant in 2003. Annual mean soil losses in 2004 were not significantly different across the planting methods.

The results indicate that the intensity, duration, and timing of precipitation affected the soil and pesticide losses and runoff volume more than the type of planting system.

Timing of fertilization is very important in CMR production because fertilizer is sprayed onto the plants. This method produced low nutrient uptake and high nutrient runoff. AMR and CCP plants were fertilized underground and resulted in higher nutrient uptake and lower nutrient runoff compared with CMR. Furthermore, CMR plots had the greatest pesticide losses. This makes the CMR system the least effective in controlling soil and pesticide losses. The AMR system was best for erosion control in the first year, but the CCP was better the following year. AMR runoff also had the lowest pesticide levels.

"These observations suggest that the AMR and CCP systems have less negative effects on our natural resources than the CMR system," Stevens remarked. And, because it does not use non-biodegradable plastic mulch that must be disposed of in a landfill, AMR is more environmentally sustainable for cold-climate strawberry production.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Society for Horticultural Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Stevens, Matthew D., Black, Brent L., Lea-Cox, John D., Sadeghi, Ali M., Harman-Fetcho, Jennifer, Pfeil, Emy, Downey, Peter, Rowland, Randy, Hapeman, Cathleen J. A Comparison of Three Cold-climate Strawberry Production Systems: Environmental Effects. HortScience, 2009; 44: 298-305 [link]

Cite This Page:

American Society for Horticultural Science. "Environmental Effects Of Cold-climate Strawberry Farming." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 September 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090904165259.htm>.
American Society for Horticultural Science. (2009, September 4). Environmental Effects Of Cold-climate Strawberry Farming. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090904165259.htm
American Society for Horticultural Science. "Environmental Effects Of Cold-climate Strawberry Farming." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090904165259.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Snack Attack: Study Says Action Movies Make You Snack More

Snack Attack: Study Says Action Movies Make You Snack More

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) — You're more likely to gain weight while watching action flicks than you are watching other types of programming, says a new study published in JAMA. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Get A Mortgage, Receive A Cat — Only In Russia

Get A Mortgage, Receive A Cat — Only In Russia

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) — The incentive is in keeping with a Russian superstition that it's good luck for a cat to be the first to cross the threshold of a new home. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) — The U.N. says the problem is two-fold — quarantine zones and travel restrictions are limiting the movement of both people and food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sharks Off the Menu and on the Tourist Trail in Palau

Sharks Off the Menu and on the Tourist Trail in Palau

AFP (Sep. 2, 2014) — Tourists in Palau clamour to dive with sharks thanks to a pioneering conservation initiative -- as the island nation plans to completely ban commercial fishing in its vast ocean territory. 01:15 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins