Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District

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Central Valley farmers grow quality tomatoes with half the nitrogen and a third less water – from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service

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How do you cut your water use by a third, cut your nitrogen use in half, maintain your tomato yield and improve your fruit quality?  “With patience, perseverance and by treating your soil like a living ecosystem–which it is,” says Jesse Sanchez.

Sanchez should know. He and Alan Sano have been experimenting with soil enhancements for 15 years on Sano Farms in Firebaugh.  They believe they have hit upon a winning strategy—though their experiments continue.

Today, they grow 50 ton per acre tomatoes with half of the nitrogen (120 units) and a third less water than before.  They also report fewer weeds and better tomato quality.

The soil organic matter (SOM)—the living portion of the soil that turns crop residue into minerals needed by growing plants—has gone from 0.5 percent to 3.0 percent, report Sano and Sanchez.  “The soil is like day and night,” says Sanchez.  “You can dig it with your hands,” he says, cupping a handful to prove his point.

Continue here.

Source:  Planting Seeds: Food and Farming News from California Department of Food and Agriculture, November 10, 2016.

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