Preliminary research into soil organic matter shows that it could be a beneficial tool for combating citrus greening.

The value of soil organic matter in growing healthy crops with high yields has been demonstrated thoroughly in agriculture. However, Florida’s sandy, acidic soils hold much less soil organic matter (SOL) than other parts of the country—1 percent versus 5 percent—according to a Citrus Industry article. The article’s writers, researchers with Colorado State University, compared components of soil quality in a 10,000+-acre south Florida citrus grove, and found indications that SOL could be key in combating citrus greening. Explore the details below.

Soil Organic Matter and Citrus Greening

Researchers were trying to figure out why some citrus trees in the grove seemed to fare better than others; they knew the trees were receiving equal management, so they looked at components of soil quality like pH, N-P-K, micronutrients, enzyme activity and SOM. They found a “clear trend that showed the average level of SOM in the “good” soil areas was almost twice as high as the level of SOM in the “bad” areas (0.9 vs. 0.5 percent),” and that an “analysis of six common soil enzymes involved in C, N and P mobilization showed that the enzyme activity in the “good” areas was consistently higher and often more than twice the level of the “bad” areas,” according to the article.

The authors “hypothesize that the success growers have had in reviving HLB-devastated groves by adding organic compounds to the soil (through cover crops, compost or biochar) is because they are supplementing the rhizosphere with carbon substrates that the phloem-limiting HLB bacteria have prevented the tree from providing.”

No doubt, research will continue into improving soil organic matter in Florida citrus groves.

Griffin Fertilizer is committed to helping both growers and ranchers make sound agronomic and economic decisions in order to maximize the health of their grove and pasture. As a full-service custom dry & liquid fertilizer blender and crop protection product distributor, we will continue our mission to further advance Florida agriculture. For questions or concerns about your farm or pasture, contact us and one of our team will be in touch.