Managing Soil Nitrogen in Winter High Tunnels
To meet the year-round demand for locally produced food, vegetable farmers have embraced protected agriculture to extend their growing season, improve yields, and enhance crop quality. However, a statewide survey found that after several growing seasons, farmers struggle to maintain productivity due to challenges in long term soil health and fertility management. Cornell Cooperative Extension is exploring practices that high tunnel growers can adopt to better manage soil fertility and improve soil health:
- Including winter cover crops in high tunnel tomato rotations as a way to scavenge leftover nitrogen and/or fix nitrogen. In turn, this could lead to less fertilizer use and result in higher crop health, yield, quality, and profitability. As part of this work, we are investigating suitable cover crop species, seeding dates, and seeding rates.
- Optimizing winter nitrogen management for spinach production. High tunnel spinach can survive Northern New York winters without supplemental heat, but the nitrogen needs of this leafy crop during the short days of winter are not well understood. Given that organic fertilizers require warm soils to mineralize the nitrogen into a form plants readily use, farmers apply high levels of nitrogen to ensure crop growth. By establishing appropriate nitrogen rates and sources, this project could increase profitability by reducing inputs while also improving soil sustainability.
Grab your lunch and join us for a virtual conversation on Friday, March 5, 2021 from 12:00pm - 1:30pm to hear our project updates and research results.
Questions can be directed to Caitlin Tucker.
No upcoming events at this time.