Inspection Services Blog

FREP blog highlights project promoting adoption of soil nitrate quick tests by Spanish-speaking operators on strawberry ranches in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties

Project leader Dr. Gerry Spinelli trains a group of irrigators and ranch managers in Parajo Valley.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Fertilizer Research and Education Program (FREP) released a blog post: Research Update: Soil Nitrate Quick Tests to Improve Nitrogen Fertilization in Strawberry Ranches.

The post, which is part of a series that highlights projects funded by the FREP competitive grant program, examines a project by the Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz titled, “Promoting the adoption of soil nitrate quick tests by Spanish-speaking operators on strawberry ranches in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties.”

Background: Given a considerable number of Central Coast communities rely exclusively on groundwater for their drinking water supply, it is crucial to enhance the efficiency of N fertilization to prevent nitrate contamination of water resources. On the other hand, high-value strawberry production requires N to be readily available for crop uptake to achieve high yield and quality. The risk of nitrate leaving the plant root zone and contaminating freshwater resources raises concerns and requires growers to be efficient with their nitrogen management.

This project is promoting the use of soil nitrate quick tests (SNQTs) as a tool to better manage N in strawberry farms on the Central Coast. SQNTs are performed in the field to measure available soil nitrate and inform N application decisions and practices. One barrier to adopting the practice of using soil nitrate quick tests is that many agricultural operators are Spanish-only speakers while many research and extension materials available are only in English. This project aims to remove the barriers for Spanish speakers to apply nitrate quick tests in strawberry and coastal vegetable crops.

Click here to read the full FREP blog post.

FREP is a CDFA program that funds and facilitates research to advance the environmentally safe and agronomically sound use and handling of fertilizing materials. It is part of the Feed, Fertilizer and Livestock Drugs Regulatory Services branch of CDFA’s Division of Inspection Services.

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