EFFECTS OF SEAFOOD-WASTE COMPOST AND MULCH ON SOIL HEALTH AND SOIL NUTRIENT DYNAMICS IN WILD BLUEBERRY (VACCINIUM ANGUSTIFOLIUM AIT.)
The potential for poor soil health to limit wild blueberry production has long been recognized. Adding stabilized organic matter in the form of seafood-waste compost could enhance the soil organic mat while providing a slow-release source of nutrients. Compost nutrient concentrations are low relative to fertilizers but they match the low nutrient requirements of wild blueberries. Currently, most organic producers in Maine rely on expensive bagged organic fertilizers that comprise 20-50% of production expenses. Bulk seafood-waste compost, available locally, may be a cheaper source of nutrients. A study was initiated in 2010 on a commercial wild blueberry farm in Township32, Maine, USA to evaluate seafood-waste compost for its impacts on soil quality, soil fertility, and crop yield. A split plot randomized complete block design was used with 6 replications. The main plot factor was mulch (with and without) and the split-plot factor was soil amendment: seafood-waste compost (89.7 t ha-1), bagged organic fertilizer (Pro-Holly 4-6-4, 1.9 t ha-1), synthetic fertilizer (diammonium phosphate, DAP, 18-46-0) at a rate of 1× (249 kg ha-1) or 2× (497 kg ha-1), and a no fertilizer control treatment. The seafood-waste compost application supplied approximately 42 kg ha-1 available nitrogen, equivalent to the Pro-Holly and DAP1x treatments, and 275 kg ha-1 phosphorus (P). One application of seafood-waste compost significantly increased soil cation exchange capacity, pH, calcium, and P concentrations compared with the other treatments, but did not affect soil organic matter nor leaf tissue nutrient concentrations. Seafood-waste compost increased branches per stem, flower buds per stem, fruits per bud, total yield, and edible yield compared with the control, and equaled the fertilizer treatments for these measures. Seafood-waste compost was comparable to Pro-Holly and DAP as a fertility source for wild blueberries.
Mallory, E.B. and Smagula, J.M. 2014. EFFECTS OF SEAFOOD-WASTE COMPOST AND MULCH ON SOIL HEALTH AND SOIL NUTRIENT DYNAMICS IN WILD BLUEBERRY (VACCINIUM ANGUSTIFOLIUM AIT.). Acta Hort. (ISHS) 1017:461-468
lowbush blueberry, organic, fertilizer, fruit yield