Higher yields targeted in soil-less strawberries

Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) and plant growth promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR) in soil-less strawberry production can boost yields while consuming fewer resources, according to a three-year Innovate UK-funded research project underway at Kent's East Malling Research.

The study is being led by post-doctoral researcher Dr Louisa Robinson-Boyer, who also works for Kent-based PlantWorks, manufacturer of the AMF-based product Rootgrow. She told the Agrovista Fruit Seminar in Kent earlier his year that earlier trials showed AMF inoculation benefited strawberry plants' growth, yield and drought tolerance, saying "an average 10-20 per cent increase in class one fruit in coir substrate, using commercial fertigation", has been observed, while previous trials have also shown that crops also require 40 per cent less irrigation.

Until recently, PlantWorks had mainly supplied the home gardening market, but now commercial growers are noting the benefits of AMF and industry trials are under way. Researchers at the University of Sheffield are working with drinks industry partners Heineken and the National Association of Cider Makers to find out how microbial diversity in the soil affects apple production, using an orchard established for the purpose.

However, studies showing increased vigour from AMF in apple tree rootstocks go back to the 1990s, said Robinson-Boyer. She told cider apple growers at a second Agrovista event in Herefordshire: "A mature apple tree can have five miles (8km) of roots and you can increase the active area 700 times with AMF." She added: They also provide stabilisation and can help with waterlogging. You can post-inoculate with AMF, but it's better to do it at planting."

Agrovista senior fruit agronomist Paul Bennett said: "It's worth re-applying at planting even if it's on the tree's roots from the nursery. It's not expensive and very easy to use, and you get really good results." Robinson-Boyer added: "You can't overdose the tree."

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

What challenges and opportunities lie in store for tomato growers?

What challenges and opportunities lie in store for tomato growers?

The British Tomato Growers Association (TGA) conference heard a range of perspectives on what changes lie in store for the sector and how to anticipate them.

Buoyant demand for UK apples but frost and labour remain concerns

Buoyant demand for UK apples but frost and labour remain concerns

As the British apple season begins, English Apples & Pears (EAP) is warning that growers will feel the effects of both a late frost in spring and also constrained labour supply.

Tomorrow's tractors

Tomorrow's tractors

These machines have advanced rapidly over recent years but what does the future hold? Sally Drury looks ahead.

Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +
Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Pest & Disease Tracker bulletin 

The latest pest and disease alerts, how to treat them, plus EAMU updates, sent direct to your inbox.

Sign up here

Professor Geoffrey Dixon

GreenGene International chair Geoff Dixon on the business of fresh produce production

Read Professor Geoffrey Dixon