Sponsored by Heliae® Agriculture
Broccoli growers understand that there is a direct correlation between soil health and crop yield. However, some do not know that it is easy to create soil conditions that help broccoli thrive. The right soil amendment is the key.
It’s a fact: Maximizing the per-acre production of high-quality broccoli requires healthy fields. What is required to maintain healthy fields? One of the factors that researchers have identified is that soil has to have the right balance of microbes and available nutrients, and studies have shown microalgae-based soil amendments encourage significant improvements to the balance of the soil’s microbiome.
Fortunately, it’s not difficult to revive depleted, old acreage or maintain the productivity of younger fields. A study of soil quality and its impact on broccoli crop quantity has shown that the application of a microalgae-based product in drench application can increase yields by as much as 5,300 lbs/acre as compared to traditional products. The same study also recorded a 19% increase in cumulative mean head weight over a grower standard product and a hydrolysate/plant extract product plus an orthophosphate product.
Not only did the activity of the microalgae in the product improve soil health, it created an environment that encouraged other beneficial microorganisms to thrive. In essence, it jump-started a healthy, underground ecosystem that benefitted both the member organisms themselves and the crops.
Soil Structure Is Also Essential
Another benefit of soil biodiversity is that the actions of bacteria, fungi, microalgae, and other organisms in breaking down plant and animal residues produce sticky “glues,” net-like fungal extensions, and other byproducts that improve soil structure. These materials aid in the creation of soil aggregates—clumps that have spaces between them that can receive and store water.
That moisture is, of course, essential to helping roots absorb nutrients. Plus, aggregates aid in moving water deep into the soil, which draws roots deeper and protects them from the effects of drought conditions occurring at shallower depths.
Without proper aggregation, soil that has been subjected to compaction, tillage, or surface crusting can’t handle moisture from precipitation or irrigation properly. Instead of being absorbed, the water runs off or pools and evaporates, providing no benefit to the crops and increasing the cost of irrigation. But when microorganisms are allowed to proliferate in the soil, its water-holding capacity and overall health and quality increase as a result.
A Healthy Microbiome is the Cornerstone of Regenerative Agriculture
Growers today are increasingly recognizing the importance of “regenerative agriculture.” This approach to farming focuses on ensuring the ongoing health of acreage and growing its value as a grower’s most important asset.
By taking steps to achieve and maintain a robust soil microbiome and proper soil structure, agriculture businesses are able to get more production from the same fields while simultaneously extending the viability of those fields. It’s a true win-win strategy. Plus, more than ever, consumers are showing a preference for fruits and vegetables grown in a sustainable, earth-friendly way. They want the companies they do business with to be stewards of the land, not just owners of it.
There is no question that a broccoli grower’s experience and understanding of their land is essential to raising healthy crops. No agriculture business can succeed without that knowledge and expertise. As growers complement this expertise with the latest in agricultural science, they can enjoy a distinct competitive advantage. One company on the forefront of agriculture research is Heliae® Agriculture. The company’s innovative PhycoTerra® microalgae-based soil amendment serves as “superfood” for starving soil, increasing helpful microbes by as much as 27 times over a control. To learn more about Heliae® Agriculture, PhycoTerra® soil amendment, and how to improve soil health and broccoli yields, please visit phycoterra.com/broccoli or call (800) 998-6536.