August 13, 2022
The national NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant Program CA organic reduced disturbance vegetable project has a new research component this year at the Hollister, CA farm of Phil Foster. Both he and CIG Project partner, Tom Willey, along with John Petrosso, of the Mazzei Company in Fresno, CA have set up an elaborate trial in one of Foster's 2022 bell pepper fields to test the potential of using pressurized air injection into drip irrigation water as a means of adding oxygen to the crop's root zone. One of the suspected challenges in increasingly reduced soil disturbance production systems is thought to be lack of oxygen and this method may be a means for overcoming this issue. On August 10th, the three of these study partners, along with Jeff Mitchell, met out in the pepper field to take stock of things and to make observations about crop growth and development in the four experimental treatments that Phil has established - reduced till (strip-tillage) without injected air, reduced till (strip-tillage) with air injection, spader-till without injected air, and spader-till with injected air. To date, drone images have not shown striking differences in growth. Phil's harvest is coming up soon and he intends to very carefully weigh each plot's productivity through his several hand harvests. Stay tuned for more conclusive information coming from this innovative approach to vegetable production.
Shown in photo: Left to right: John Petrosso, Phil Foster, and Tom Willey