Video: The Use of Beneficial Soil Inoculants for Strawberry Tip Production

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Guest post by Amanda McWhirt, graduate student in the NC State University Crop Sciences Department.

While planting for next season may be the last thing on your mind at this point, these cold days can be a good opportunity to look around at what techniques are being researched and where they might fit in to your production system.One practice that our group is researching is the use of beneficial soil inoculants.  

What are Beneficial Soil Inoculants?

At the recent Southeastern Strawberry Expo there was interest shown by some growers in increasing the presence of beneficial soil microbes in their soil. Why? Because beneficial soil microorganisms are bacteria and fungi that live in the soil and are good for plant growth! In strawberry production beneficial microbes have been shown to contribute to increases in yield, plant growth and add to overall soil health.

The absence of beneficial soil microorganisms in a field can be a concern for strawberry growers in the SE who rely on annual fumigation. This practice eliminates or greatly reduces all microbes, both good and bad, from the soil.

Returning Good Microbes to the Soil

One idea for how to return beneficial microorganisms to a field is to incorporate materials that contain these microbes into the strawberry plug during tip establishment. By inoculating the plug these beneficial microbes are then transferred to the field when the plugs are transplanted.

Our research team is continuing to investigate the technique of incorporating vermicompost and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) as beneficial inoculants in plug production for their impact on strawberry fruit yield and plant growth in the Southeast.

The following video outlines the use of beneficial soil inoculants and our technique for incorporating them into tip establishment and plug production.

As our research team continues to investigate this technique and other soil management practices we hope you will consider how you might be able increase the presence of beneficial soil microorganisms in your strawberry production system.

Look for information soon about a webinar on March 11th, during which we will discuss in greater detail sustainable soil management practices. We look forward to seeing you there!

More information

Vermicomposting in North Carolina

Arbuscular Mycorrhizal FungiMycorrhizal Associations

Sustainable Soil Management in Strawberries on Facebook