Impact of variable rate fertilization on wild blueberry plant growth and fruit yield

Authors: Saleem, Sr, Q Uz Zaman, D Percival, A Madani, A Schumann
Description: The fertilizer management practices for wild blueberry fields are uniform without considering substantial variation in soil/plant characteristic and topographic features. A wild blueberry field was selected to evaluate the impact of variable rate (VR) fertilization on plant growth and fruit yield. Slope variability of the field was determined using SMMS and slope map was generated in ArcGIS 9.3. Three management zones (steep slope, Z1 moderate, Z2 and low lying area, Z3) were developed based on slope variation and bare spots in the field. GPS-guided prescription map was developed in ArcGIS 9.3 to apply fertilizer rates (200,150 and 100 kg ha-1 for Z1, Z2, Z3, respectively) in one half with VR fertilizer spreader and zero rate was allocated for bare spots. Other half of the field received the growers uniform fertilizer rate of 200 kg ha-1 for comparison. Leaf samples were collected at tip die-back stage from each management zone for both VR and uniform treatments and analyzed for leaf macro and micro nutrient concentrations. Plant growth parameters and fruit yield were also collected from each management zone for both VR and uniform treatments. Most leaf nutrient concentrations were not significantly influenced by the VRA and were within the recommended optimal ranges. Fruit yield was also non-significant between two treatments, although mean fruit yield was higher in VR treatment as compared to uniform treatment. VR treatment received 42% less fertilizer than uniform treatment and could improve crop productivity.
Keywords: variable rate, leaf nutrients, plant growth parameters, wild blueberry, fruit yield
Technical field: technical_fields_app7
Session name: Soil and water
Date: 2012
Identifier: CSBE12067
Coverage: Canada

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