Focus on soil health revitalizes citrus grove decimated by citrus greening disease
Published: November 25, 2019
Category: Regenerative Agriculture, The Organic & Non-GMO Report Newsletter
Citrus greening (HLB) is a devastating disease that is threatening the citrus industry in the United States. Genetic engineering has been hyped as a solution to the disease. But a Florida citrus grove owner has found that focusing on soil health by planting cover crops revitalized his citrus trees after they had been decimated by HLB.
About eight years ago, Ed James had given up on a grove that was ravaged by HLB in the Howey-in-the-Hills area of Florida.
“I had abandoned the grove,” he says. “I was going to fix the soil to plant alternative crops. And when I started fixing the soil with cover crops, the trees turned around and started producing again.”
James says the keys to rehabilitating the grove after the ravages of HLB included “rebuilding the soil health and the cover cropping and focusing on a really healthy soil.” Another key he cites was getting more organic matter in the topsoil. In his case, he says, he fixed the soil “and the trees fixed themselves.”
James uses about a dozen different cover crops, including legumes, brassicas, broadleaves and grasses. He says the cover crops provide 100 percent of the nitrogen in the grove. He also applies potassium and some other elements.
James’ success revitalizing his citrus grove led to a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Soil Health Field Day, which attracted about 40 to his grove. Attendees saw how well the grove has recovered from HLB and heard from several UF/IFAS researchers invited by commercial fruit production Extension agent Juanita Popenoe.
Source: Citrus Industry
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