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Pioneering the Future

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Selecting and Monitoring Fertility Regimes in Organic Greenhouse Basil

Abstract:

Demand for organic fresh produce, including culinary herbs, is increasing at a steady rate. Organic greenhouse herb production in soilless culture offers several benefits to the grower including increased protection from crop pests, increased control of temperature and efficient irrigation management. In organic systems, fertilizer is generally the most expensive input, and nitrogen management is often cited as one of the more challenging aspects of this type of crop production. Synthetic fertilizers are largely prohibited. Instead, plant nutrients are supplied by plant and animal-based (natural) fertilizers. Nutrients from natural fertilizers must be converted to forms that plants can use. This is accomplished by microbes through several biological processes. The efficiency of these biological processes depends on several environmental conditions including temperature and moisture and as such is highly variable. This variability can result in nutrient release patterns that are out of synchrony with crop nutrient demand.