"We have limited availability of land to produce, this forces us to increase yields"

Juan Hirzel Campos, INIA:

What happens with the N applied in a dose higher than the need of the plant? Where are the "losses" going? What effect do we generate on the environment with said "losses"? How is the water footprint and the carbon footprint affected?

The researcher of the Institute of Agricultural Research, INIA, of the University of Chile, Juan Hirzel Campos, will be one of the rapporteurs of the 7 ° International Seminar, "Peru and the cranberry industry: Defining strategies for access to new markets", which The 13 will be held in June at the JW Marriott in Lima, Peru. At the meeting the scientist will develop the theme "Preparing access to distant markets: Relationships between nutrients for obtaining quality fruit".

Cranberries and nutrients

In his text "Cranberry Fertilization", the agronomist Juan Hirzel states that nutritional management is one of the most important factors in cultivation. For conventional handling, any type of fertilizer can be used in appropriate doses and seasons. On the other hand, for organic management, authorized sources of fertilization must be used, which must be applied at the appropriate times according to their nutrient delivery speed, since many of these sources, such as compost and green fertilizers, need the biological activity of the soil, a process that takes a long time to deliver some of its nutrients such as nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and sulfur (S). Other nutrients, such as potassium (K), calcium (Ca) and magnesium (Mg) are delivered more quickly. The dose to apply of each nutrient must be related to the level of yield of the orchard and the chemical properties of the soil (soil analysis), for which the fertilization program to be used season by season must be specific in each orchard (can not be generalize a recipe for all conditions), since the lack or excess of some nutrient will directly affect the productivity of the garden and the quality of the fruit. Therefore, it is necessary to have soil analysis (as much as possible every 2 to 3 years) and leaf analyzes (every year), with which the nutritional diagnosis and fertilization recommendation for that orchard will be specific and the objective will be met from the producer: higher yield and quality = higher profitability for the crop.

Wrong parameters

The INIA nutrition specialist warns in other texts about the dangers of applying nutrients in blueberry orchards with parameters developed in other countries, which do not consider the long post-harvest period that Chilean and South American fruit in general must endure. The nutritional management of blueberries is a factor of great importance in the productivity of each orchard and in the quality of the fruit produced. Elements associated with fruit yield, size and firmness, such as potassium (K); to firmness, health and post-harvest life, such as calcium (Ca); or to growth, productivity, excess vigor of the plant and softening of fruit, such as nitrogen (N); They must be increasingly adjusted in nutritional management programs but based on existing knowledge at the national and international level. As an example, the researcher argues, the management of C in blueberry has only been partially understood to date, since in many orchards doses are used that in many cases exceed more than twice the real needs. One of the "distractors" that induces this error is the foliar analysis, for which foreign standards are used, mainly from the United States. These standards aim at obtaining high growth and productivity plants, and do not consider aspects related to the post-harvest life of the fruit, since much of the production must not face long trips or does not require an extended post-harvest life. as is the case of the South American fruit. Another distractor that leads to a wrong dose of N is the search for greater growth and development in plants, or the use of the concept of 'efficiency' of the recovery of N applied as fertilizer. This concept is often misunderstood by those who formulate nutritional management programs, since a large part of the N applied is attributed to “loss”, being that fertilization is an 'early replenishment' of the nutritional needs of the garden for different scenarios of chemical fertility of the soil. It is questionable, says Hirzel, what happens to the N applied in higher doses than the need of the plant? Where are the "losses" going? What effect do we generate on the environment with these “losses”? How is the water footprint and the carbon footprint affected?

Water and fertilizers

In conversation with the Fertile Nation, the researcher also refers to the concept of fertility, which classifies it as very broad, because it simplifies the capacity to produce. "Our country and the world in general was much more fertile than it is now, through the passage of time the different agents of erosion, rain, wind, have caused agricultural land to lose productive capacity and that has gone limiting in productive terms", Says the scientist and adds,"so that our agriculture becomes more dependent on the use of fertilizers and is directly related to the production capacity, which may have different agricultural companies".

Juan Hirzel comments that all the studies carried out by INIA show that water is the most important soil factor for crops, above fertilizers. "If there is no water the plant does not hydrate, it does not consume oxygen, nor nutrients, so it can not make photosynthesis and can not produce. Even if we have a fertilizer mine, the plant will not be able to occupy anything if it does not have water".

He emphasizes that the availability and use of water is very important, and ensures that INIA studies show that «the use of water, in comparative terms with respect to all the inputs that the producer uses, represents between the 40% and the 60% on the productivity" Hirzel points out that when we compare the performance of a crop with and without water, we can triple the yield.

"We have limited availability of land to produce, this forces us to increase yields, so entrepreneurs must expand the most efficient way of resources to increase yields and productivity".

Source: Martín Carrillo O. - Blueberries Consulting

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