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From the Greenhouse – Cultivating Success with QLF’s Year-Round Research Center

December 15, 2023

Anthony Roth

Greenhouse Manager


Anthony Roth, QLF Agronomy Greenhouse Manager

Almost everything in life has its advantages and disadvantages. Growing in a greenhouse is no exception; however, I believe there are significantly more advantages, especially during the winter in Wisconsin. The QLF research greenhouse features triple-walled polycarbonate sheeting with two air spaces, enhancing its insulating properties. It is also equipped with dual-purpose curtains that close during sunless winter months to retain heat. Conversely, in the summer, these curtains provide shade when temperatures and sunlight reach their extremes.

During winter, the sun’s rays have sufficient strength to heat the greenhouse without the need for an additional heat source. The greenhouse is outfitted with a dual heating system to ensure a consistent temperature in the absence of sunlight or in case of a system malfunction. Designed for year-round operation, the greenhouse serves as a substantial resource for QLF and its customers, facilitating continuous experiments and research.

One of the additional benefits the QLF greenhouse offers, is its capacity to trial multiple treatments before implementing them in actual field trials. This enables us to optimize the use of limited space and time associated with field experiments. In a recent cucumber trial, we assessed 11 different treatments (refer to Graph A). Various formulations of QLF starter (7-21-3 MKP), Boost, and KelPak (seaweed extract) were applied in-furrow alongside cucumber seeds.

 Cucumber seeds sown in early spring are sensitive to cold soil temperatures as well as stressors such as mechanical stress and salinity stress from water or conventional starter fertilizers. In this study, the seeds were subjected to temperatures between 55 degrees at night and 65 degrees during the day. The Conviron 6050 Growth Chamber allows us to mimic field conditions of our choosing, proving invaluable for assessing seeds and plants under diverse conditions and treatments.

The cucumber plants were transferred to the greenhouse, where they continued to grow until the first true leaf emerged. Additionally, we conducted an evaluation of the cucumber seeds to assess any potential seed injury caused by salts present in fertilizers. Seed safety is a distinctive feature of QLF fertilizer, and this study demonstrated that the use of L-CBF products contributed to more uniform cucumber development under typical spring planting conditions.

I’d like to highlight another greenhouse trial involving flowers. QLF has recently expanded into small package bottling for some of our liquid products. This specific trial utilized QLF GardenBOOST, designed to offer a balanced energy source for soil microbes and essential nutrients for plants. The flowers were planted in a fertile, custom media blend crafted to closely mimic natural soil conditions.

GardenBOOST was applied at a rate of 9 ounces per 1,000 square feet using a watering can, similar to the hose applicator bottles that will be available in the near future. The application took place on September 22, 2023, when the plants were approximately 10 inches tall. Remarkably, the first flowers appeared on the plants treated with GardenBOOST just six days later, while the untreated plants took 35 to 45 days to initiate flowering.

The flowers that received QLF fertilizer demonstrated a quicker and more abundant bloom, likely attributed to increased nutrient availability and uptake, due by greater soil microbial activity.

QLF research has consistently demonstrated that working in harmony with soil microbes and delivering plant nutrition in a balanced, carbon-based package results in improved utilization of applied nutrients and those present in the soil.

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