Assessing Methods for Nutrient Application for Trees/Woody Shrub Nutrition

Farmer: Derick Greenly

Farm: Summergreen Tree Crops & Mushrooms

Region: Central

Publish Date: February 5, 2020

Article Type: Research Protocol

Research Priorities: Soil Health 

Many Ontario agriculture soils are limestone-based and neutral in pH, which presents challenges when attempting to produce economic yields of alkalinity-sensitive species like blueberry, peach and chestnut. Iron tie-up in calcareous soil leads to chlorosis and unsatisfactory growth and broadacre application of sulphur to correct the issue is expensive. For example, sulphur is upwards of $700/acre plus application costs for blueberries in Northumberland County. In 1986, Carl Whitcomb developed a technique for solving chlorosis problems in new & established trees. This technique even solved nutritional issues species with pH sensitivity in extremely alkaline condition with lasting effects (i.e. pin oaks surrounded by concrete). The method involves applying small amounts of sulphur and micronutrients using a bulb planter in a circular pattern around the tree. With this inspiration, Derick asked the question:​ ​Can woody perennials, which are prone to chlorosis in neutral soils, be cultivated effectively with localized, hand-installed soil amendment treatments, rather than the typical broadacre application and tillage incorporation of sulphur and chelated micronutrients?