Anthony Roth, Greenhouse Manager
I have been growing plants in a greenhouse setting for over 10 years. Starting with projects in college that included experimenting with hormones and the roles they play in grafting plants, building and managing aquaponic systems that combine raising fish and plants in their own little ecosystem, and presently as the Greenhouse Manager at QLF’s Agronomy Research Center (ARC) trialing different formulas of Liquid Carbon-Based Fertilizers (L-CBF) and developing ways to measure performances. One might think that growing in a greenhouse would mitigate all challenges that come with growing plants, but it brings its own unique challenges and constraints. Such as managing a very different environment which can include pests like thrips, aphids, and mealy bugs. Also being mindful of taking a careful approach to water management issues that comes with growing plants in small containers. However, the QLF Agronomy’s Greenhouse provides an invaluable tool to replicate tests, evaluate and interpret results, and hopefully bring forth new information for advancing product development and more education to our customers.
One of our latest Greenhouse trials included using an Arizona Alfalfa variety. Here are my observations.
The Arizona Alfalfa experiment evaluated 8 different treatments. (See table 1)
The alfalfa was planted at 30 pounds to the acre and had two cuttings during establishment before the first treatments were applied. Different formulas were applied at 5 gallons per acre. Three cuttings were then sampled, weighed wet, dried, and weighed again (determining dry matter weights). A second application of the same treatments was then applied and two more subsequent cuttings were evaluated. Estimated tonnage per acre was calculated to evaluate the efficacy of all the treatments. (See Graph 2)
Results: L-CBF BOOST 4-0-3-2S treated alfalfa yielded the highest tons per acre. Averaging 1.63 tons per acre per cutting, that’s a 23% increase over the control (water treatment). Experimental formulas L-CBF Delta and Bravo yielded averages per cutting of 1.43 and 1.49 tons per acre, 12.8% and 8.3% increase respectively over control.
Summary: The abundant and valuable information gathered from these experiments aid QLF Agronomy in many ways. For example, developing better products that provide more energy and an improved balanced nutrition to both soil biology and plants. This can be observed when looking at treatment 2, 5, and 7. See how they outperformed the other treatments even though they contain similar energy and nutritional profiles. Having the right ingredient combinations can increases performance. From these results we can use this information to help decide on products and design for our field research. It helps us narrow down the number of treatments that we test in the field, allowing us to be more efficient with time and resources.
One of the greatest satisfactions I enjoy being part of the R&D process, for me is when the field trials show similar results outcomes to the Greenhouse trial results. This was the case with the Arizona Alfalfa trial. Just like the results from the Greenhouse, L-CBF BOOST has also been one of the top performers in outdoor Arizona Alfalfa field trials. QLF Agronomy’s commitment to research and pursuit of better understanding, is apparent with our investments in trials and dedicated research facilities. We continue to strive to improve upon our accomplishments.