• TABLE OF CONTENTS
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 Title Page
 Introduction
 Preparation of elevated beds
 Application of "starter" ferti...
 Applying season's fertilizer beneath...
 Historic note






Group Title: Research report - Ft. Pierce Agricultural Research Center ; RL-1979-4
Title: How to apply strip mulch over banded fertilizer to reduce leaching
CITATION THUMBNAILS PAGE IMAGE ZOOMABLE
Full Citation
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00056027/00001
 Material Information
Title: How to apply strip mulch over banded fertilizer to reduce leaching
Series Title: Ft. Pierce ARC research report
Physical Description: 4 leaves, 7 leaves of plates : ill. ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Hayslip, Norman C ( Norman Calvin ), 1916-
University of Florida -- Agricultural Research Center
Publisher: University of Florida, Insititute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Agricultural Research Center
Place of Publication: Fort Pierce Fla
Publication Date: [1979]
 Subjects
Subject: Soils -- Leaching -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Mulching -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Genre: non-fiction   ( marcgt )
 Notes
Statement of Responsibility: Norman C. Hayslip.
General Note: Caption title.
General Note: "April, 1979."
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00056027
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 69417992

Table of Contents
    Title Page
        Page 1
    Introduction
        Page 2
    Preparation of elevated beds
        Page 2
        Page 2a
        Page 2b
    Application of "starter" fertilizer
        Page 3
    Applying season's fertilizer beneath strip mulch
        Page 3
        Page 3a
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
    Historic note
        Page 9
Full Text

/ Ft. Pierce ARC Research Report RL-1979-4


April, 1979


How to Apply Strip Mulch Over

Banded Fertilizer to Reduce Leaching
Norman C. Hayslip


Figure 1.


Onion plots received same fertilizer treatment and placement.
Top plastic strips over banded fertilizer. Bottom banded
fertilizer without plastic strips.


1/ Professor, Vegetable Crops, University of Florida, IFAS, Agricultural
Research Center, Fort Pierce.






-2-


Introduction

Heavy rainfall leaches massive amounts of expensive chemical fertilizers from
Florida's sand-land vegetable farms each season. Studies have shown that placement
of plastic or sealed kraft paper strips over banded fertilizers in an inverted "U"
fashion will sharply reduce leaching (Figure 1). Strip mulch helps to insure a
constant and adequate supply of nutrients even during periods of rainfall, resulting
in higher crop yields and improved quality. Examples of transplant crops growing
under strip mulch culture are shown (Figure 2). The modest cost for mulch makes its
use economically feasible for both high and low per-acre value vegetable crops.
Strong winds do no damage to strip mulch, and the plastic mulch is easily removed at
the end of harvest. Overhead irrigation and supplementary fertilizer applications,
if needed, can be made with standard equipment where strip mulch culture is practiced.
The use of high analyses, all chemical fertilizer, and its single application before
or during planting should simplify and reduce the cost of fertilization compared to
several seasonal applications of low analyses fertilizers. Precision land leveling
is not as critical under strip mulch culture compared to full-bed-mulch culture.

The use of full bed mulch is preferred over strip mulch in some instances. It
is used extensively in Florida for high per-acre value hill crops such as tomatoes,
peppers and strawberries. In addition to protecting against fertilizer leaching,
full bed mulch has several other distinct benefits including enhancement of fumiga-
tion, erosion and weed control, and protection from certain soil-borne diseases such
as Rhizoctonia fruit rots. Strip mulch culture is suggested for those crops where
full bed mulch is not needed, is considered too expensive for low per-acre-value
crops, or cannot be used because of the type of crop grown.

This publication was prepared as a guide for those who plan to use strip mulch
culture. Growers are advised to carefully follow the directions outlined. The IFAS
strip mulch applicator described is not presently available from any manufacturer.
However, an applicator can be obtained on short-term loan from ARC, Fort Pierce for
test purposes, or for use as a model for growers or manufacturers who wish to con-
struct a similar applicator.


Preparation of elevated beds

Strip mulch culture is suggested for vegetable farms with elevated plant beds at
least 6" in height from bed top to bottom of water furrows. In most cases the beds
will range from 8" to 12" in height. The bed top should be slightly crowned
(Figure 3) with the highest point located over the mulch covered fertilizer. Flat
bed tops are not recommended because surface water may accumulate on them during
heavy rainfall, and if this occurs fertilizer will be moved from beneath the plastic
mulch. A 2" crown will promote adequate run-off of surface water from the bed top.
If 2, 3, or 4 crop rows are to be planted on each bed, the center of the bed should
be the highest point. If one row is to be planted the high point and strip mulch
covered fertilizer should be 4" to one side of bed center.






-2-


Introduction

Heavy rainfall leaches massive amounts of expensive chemical fertilizers from
Florida's sand-land vegetable farms each season. Studies have shown that placement
of plastic or sealed kraft paper strips over banded fertilizers in an inverted "U"
fashion will sharply reduce leaching (Figure 1). Strip mulch helps to insure a
constant and adequate supply of nutrients even during periods of rainfall, resulting
in higher crop yields and improved quality. Examples of transplant crops growing
under strip mulch culture are shown (Figure 2). The modest cost for mulch makes its
use economically feasible for both high and low per-acre value vegetable crops.
Strong winds do no damage to strip mulch, and the plastic mulch is easily removed at
the end of harvest. Overhead irrigation and supplementary fertilizer applications,
if needed, can be made with standard equipment where strip mulch culture is practiced.
The use of high analyses, all chemical fertilizer, and its single application before
or during planting should simplify and reduce the cost of fertilization compared to
several seasonal applications of low analyses fertilizers. Precision land leveling
is not as critical under strip mulch culture compared to full-bed-mulch culture.

The use of full bed mulch is preferred over strip mulch in some instances. It
is used extensively in Florida for high per-acre value hill crops such as tomatoes,
peppers and strawberries. In addition to protecting against fertilizer leaching,
full bed mulch has several other distinct benefits including enhancement of fumiga-
tion, erosion and weed control, and protection from certain soil-borne diseases such
as Rhizoctonia fruit rots. Strip mulch culture is suggested for those crops where
full bed mulch is not needed, is considered too expensive for low per-acre-value
crops, or cannot be used because of the type of crop grown.

This publication was prepared as a guide for those who plan to use strip mulch
culture. Growers are advised to carefully follow the directions outlined. The IFAS
strip mulch applicator described is not presently available from any manufacturer.
However, an applicator can be obtained on short-term loan from ARC, Fort Pierce for
test purposes, or for use as a model for growers or manufacturers who wish to con-
struct a similar applicator.


Preparation of elevated beds

Strip mulch culture is suggested for vegetable farms with elevated plant beds at
least 6" in height from bed top to bottom of water furrows. In most cases the beds
will range from 8" to 12" in height. The bed top should be slightly crowned
(Figure 3) with the highest point located over the mulch covered fertilizer. Flat
bed tops are not recommended because surface water may accumulate on them during
heavy rainfall, and if this occurs fertilizer will be moved from beneath the plastic
mulch. A 2" crown will promote adequate run-off of surface water from the bed top.
If 2, 3, or 4 crop rows are to be planted on each bed, the center of the bed should
be the highest point. If one row is to be planted the high point and strip mulch
covered fertilizer should be 4" to one side of bed center.






























































Figure 2. Top Two bands of strip-mulch-covered fertilizer for 3 rows of
transplanted cabbage. Bottom One band for 2 rows of trans-
planted onions. All fertilizer and mulch applied before trans-
planting crops.


































































Placement of fertilizer, plastic strips over fertilizer, and
plants. A One plastic covered band in bed center, crop
planted 6" 8" each side. B two bands 16" apart, three
crop rows (as shown), or one row between bands. C one
band located 4" off center. Crop planted 6" 8" from band.
Note slight crown of bed tops to promote surface water run-off.


Figure 3.


1







-3-


Application of "starter" fertilizer

The amount and placement of "starter" fertilizers will depend upon whether the
crop is transplanted or field seeded, the number of rows per bed, and the type of
vegetable grown. Some fertilizer must be placed near (but not in) each plant row so
it will be readily available to the developing root system of emerging seedlings or
new transplants. Nutrients must remain in adequate amounts until the root systems
reach the mulch covered banded fertilizer. Ideally, starter fertilizer should be
placed 2" 3" to one or both sides and slightly below the seed. Slow growing crops,
such as seeded onions, may require a second side-dress application of starter ferti-
lizer if leaching rains occur before the plants' roots reach the mulch covered ferti-
lizer. Transplanted onions produce roots much more rapidly than those seeded, and
generally will not require a second fertilization with starter fertilizer. Plug-mix
seeding of hill crops and the use of starter fertilizer solution in transplant water
often will aid in getting plants and root development off to a good start. Care must
be taken to avoid fertilizer damage to plants by the use of proper fertilizer place-
ment and rates.


Applying season's fertilizer beneath strip mulch

High analyses chemical fertilizers are banded 2" 3" deep and covered with
10-inch-wide plastic mulch or 8-inch-wide kraft paper sealed with 1/4 mil plastic
as shown in (Figure 3). Fertilizer should be placed deep enough into the bed to
insure that it will be in moist soil at all times. However, the fertilizer must be
high enough in the bed to prevent free water from moving into it. During rainfall
or overhead irrigation, water should seep into the bed below the banded fertilizer
and move laterally to the water furrows on each side. Therefore, the bottom of the
water furrows between beds must be at least 4", and preferably 6" or 8" lower than
the banded fertilizer to insure good drainage away from the fertilizer.

A strip mulch applicator (Figure 4) was developed for attachment to a tractor-
mounted bed press. The applicator includes a stainless steel furrow opener with
adjustments for depth control. Fertilizer is metered into the furrow opener.
Immediately behind the furrow opener is a rolling soil compactor with depth adjust-
ments to conform to the depth of the banded fertilizer. This component covers the
banded fertilizer and creates a furrow on each side (furrows 4" apart), which extend
below the level of fertilizer. The roll of strip mulch is lowered onto a pair of
free-rolling bars and is held in place by a metal shaft extending beyond each end of
the roll into upright channel irons. The end of the strip mulch is fed between a
pair of spring loaded, soft-plastic-sleeve covered, free rolling bars. A pair of
wheels, spaced to fit into the pre-formed furrows, force the plastic edges to the
bottom of the furrows on each side of the banded fertilizer. A sled consisting of a
pair of stainless steel rods extends behind the wheels to hold down the plastic edges
while covering disks throw soil into the grooves and over the strip mulch. This
operation leaves the strip mulch secured in an inverted "U" fashion over the ferti-
lizer, and with about 1/2" of soil over the top of the mulch.

The center plate of the bed press can be built or modified for hook-up to the
strip mulch applicator. The example shown (Figure 5) was built for applying the
banded fertilizer and strip mulch in the bed center. It is also equipped for attach-
ment of a seeder on each side. The front end of the mulch applicator slips into the







-3-


Application of "starter" fertilizer

The amount and placement of "starter" fertilizers will depend upon whether the
crop is transplanted or field seeded, the number of rows per bed, and the type of
vegetable grown. Some fertilizer must be placed near (but not in) each plant row so
it will be readily available to the developing root system of emerging seedlings or
new transplants. Nutrients must remain in adequate amounts until the root systems
reach the mulch covered banded fertilizer. Ideally, starter fertilizer should be
placed 2" 3" to one or both sides and slightly below the seed. Slow growing crops,
such as seeded onions, may require a second side-dress application of starter ferti-
lizer if leaching rains occur before the plants' roots reach the mulch covered ferti-
lizer. Transplanted onions produce roots much more rapidly than those seeded, and
generally will not require a second fertilization with starter fertilizer. Plug-mix
seeding of hill crops and the use of starter fertilizer solution in transplant water
often will aid in getting plants and root development off to a good start. Care must
be taken to avoid fertilizer damage to plants by the use of proper fertilizer place-
ment and rates.


Applying season's fertilizer beneath strip mulch

High analyses chemical fertilizers are banded 2" 3" deep and covered with
10-inch-wide plastic mulch or 8-inch-wide kraft paper sealed with 1/4 mil plastic
as shown in (Figure 3). Fertilizer should be placed deep enough into the bed to
insure that it will be in moist soil at all times. However, the fertilizer must be
high enough in the bed to prevent free water from moving into it. During rainfall
or overhead irrigation, water should seep into the bed below the banded fertilizer
and move laterally to the water furrows on each side. Therefore, the bottom of the
water furrows between beds must be at least 4", and preferably 6" or 8" lower than
the banded fertilizer to insure good drainage away from the fertilizer.

A strip mulch applicator (Figure 4) was developed for attachment to a tractor-
mounted bed press. The applicator includes a stainless steel furrow opener with
adjustments for depth control. Fertilizer is metered into the furrow opener.
Immediately behind the furrow opener is a rolling soil compactor with depth adjust-
ments to conform to the depth of the banded fertilizer. This component covers the
banded fertilizer and creates a furrow on each side (furrows 4" apart), which extend
below the level of fertilizer. The roll of strip mulch is lowered onto a pair of
free-rolling bars and is held in place by a metal shaft extending beyond each end of
the roll into upright channel irons. The end of the strip mulch is fed between a
pair of spring loaded, soft-plastic-sleeve covered, free rolling bars. A pair of
wheels, spaced to fit into the pre-formed furrows, force the plastic edges to the
bottom of the furrows on each side of the banded fertilizer. A sled consisting of a
pair of stainless steel rods extends behind the wheels to hold down the plastic edges
while covering disks throw soil into the grooves and over the strip mulch. This
operation leaves the strip mulch secured in an inverted "U" fashion over the ferti-
lizer, and with about 1/2" of soil over the top of the mulch.

The center plate of the bed press can be built or modified for hook-up to the
strip mulch applicator. The example shown (Figure 5) was built for applying the
banded fertilizer and strip mulch in the bed center. It is also equipped for attach-
ment of a seeder on each side. The front end of the mulch applicator slips into the












FURROW
MULCH MUULC FURROW FERTILIZER OPENER
lttfMfULCfH FORMER
SI -[.13 G U- :


Figure 4. IFAS strip mulch applicator detail.
to center plate of bed-press.


Figure 5.


Front end (right) attaches


Center plate of bed press for attachment of strip mulch appli-
cator. (1) Strip mulch applicator attached here (for center of
bed fertilizer placement). (2) Seeders can be attached on one
or both sides of fertilizer band.







-4-


back edge of the center plate and is secured by two bolts, which provides verticle
flotation of the applicator. Horizontal independent movement of the applicator is
restricted at this point, however, the strip mulch applicator can move horizontally
from about mid-way to the rear of the unit due to the installation of a swiveling
arrangement just forward from the strip mulch holder. This swiveling provision was
found necessary for proper strip mulch application.

A complete system for bedding, fertilizing, installing strip mulch and field
seeding in one tractor operation is shown (Figures 6, 7, and 8) mounted on a high
clearance tractor with hydraulic controlled tool bars beneath and at the rear of the
tractor. The side-mounted tractor wheel powered fertilizer hopper deposits starter
fertilizer in broad bands on ground surface just ahead of the small covering disks
located beneath the tractor. The rear fertilizer hopper (powered by a hydraulic
motor), main bedding disks, bed press, plastic laying machine and seeders were mounted
on the rear tool bar attachment. The "Cole" seeders shown (Figures 6 and 7) have
fertilizer hoppers and dispensers. This makes it possible to apply starter ferti-
lizers in the grooves made by the seeders press wheels near the seeded rows in place
of, or in addition to the starter fertilizer applied beneath the tractor just ahead
of bedding. High analyses fertilizers in the rear mounted fertilizer hopper are
metered into the furrow opener on the strip mulch machine via hoses. All operations
can be done simultaneously as shown in (Figures 7 and 8), or the crop can be seeded
or transplanted in a separate operation after bedding, fertilizing, and laying plastic.






























- -c


Tractor equipped to apply starter fertilizer (1) and throw up a
narrow bed (2) beneath belly of tractor, enlarge and press finished
bed at rear of tractor (3), seed two rows (4), apply high analyses
season's fertilizer (5), and lay strip mulch (6) in a single
tractor operation.


Figure 6.

























































Figure 7. Rear view of tractor equipment assembly. Bed in lower portion
of photograph has starter fertilizer, season's fertilizer be-
neath strip mulch and two rows of beans planted.
























































Figure 8. Close-up of bed seeded to 2-rows of beans showing location of
season's fertilizer beneath strip mulch (center of photo) which
was cut and pulled away for photograph.






























































Top applying season's fertilizer and strip mulch for fall crop
in 5-acre test plot. Bottom same plot about 2 1/2 months later
with excellent tomato crop nearing maturity.


Figure 9.









HISTORIC NOTE


The publications in this collection do
not reflect current scientific knowledge
or recommendations. These texts
represent the historic publishing
record of the Institute for Food and
Agricultural Sciences and should be
used only to trace the historic work of
the Institute and its staff. Current IFAS
research may be found on the
Electronic Data Information Source
(EDIS)

site maintained by the Florida
Cooperative Extension Service.






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