Articles

Soil fertility and how to manage it

In simple words, soil fertility, refers to a soil rich in nutrients. However, in the broader definition, it is determined by the physical and physiochemical properties of the soil. The physical properties include factors such...
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Growing avocado

Background Avocado (scientific name: Persea americana), It belongs to the family Lauraceae and originated from tropical America, particularly Mexico and Central America. Spanish explorers would later spread avocado to other parts of the world, many...
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Using gypsum as a soil amendment

What is gypsum? Gypsum is a naturally occurring di-hydrated calcium sulfate mineral, chemically represented as CaSO4.2H2O. This mineral dissolves in water and is found deposited below the earth’s surface in as a rock. Therefore, gypsum...
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Ozone water treatment

Ozone as a disinfectant in water treatment Ozone is a gas molecule composed of three oxygen atoms (O3). It was first discovered in 1840 by a German chemist, and in 1906 it was used for...
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Irrigation with wastewater

What is wastewater? Wastewater is water that has been used domestically or in the industry. Wastewater contains many pollutants, biological and chemical and, therefore, must be treated before it can be reused for other purposes....
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How to choose the best cover crop

Cover crops play a significant role in the farmer’s field. Typically, cover crops are planted between harvests or for winter protection. They are considered temporary plants that provide many benefits for the cash crop and...
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Center pivot irrigation systems

Center pivot irrigation is a mechanized sprinkler system that irrigates crops in a circular pattern. In this type of systems, a long pipeline rotates around a central pivot point. The system is gaining popularity and...
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What is Carbon Farming?

In effort to mitigate climate change, policymakers have advocated for the adoption of climate-friendly practices. Carbon farming has emerged as a way in which farmers can fight climate change and contribute to the global effort....
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Nitrogen fixation by legumes

Legume crops provide an important source of protein, carbohydrates and oils for humans and animals. One of their unique features is their ability to use atmospheric nitrogen as a nutrient source. Nitrogen is an essential...
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Aluminum toxicity in plants

Aluminum is a metallic element with a valency of +3. It is the third most abundant element in earth’s crust. Despite the fact that aluminum is not an essential nutrient, it has an agronomic importance...
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Potato blight

Late blight is a destructive disease that primarily infects potatoes and tomatoes, but also other members of the Solanaceae family. The causative pathogen for late blight disease is fungus-like oomycete (water mold), scientifically named Phytophthora...
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Hydroponic systems

Hydroponics is a growing method in which plants are grown in a mineral nutrient solution, with or without the use of a growing medium. There are several types of hydroponic systems, which will be further...
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How to raise soil pH

Soil acidity is a major cause of reduced yields.  Toxicity of micronutrients such as manganese, iron and aluminum may occur, while nutrients such as potassium, calcium and magnesium become unavailable. Furthermore, low soil pH impedes...
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Iron in plants

Iron is required for the biosynthesis of the chlorophyll molecule and functions as an electron carrier in the respiration and photosynthesis reactions. In addition, it participates in many enzymatic processes. Iron deficiency is a limiting...
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Foliar feeding

Foliar fertilization, also referred to as foliar feeding, is the application of plant nutrients directly to the foliage of the plant by spraying the crop with a liquid fertilizer solution. While it can be used...
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Soil pH and acidity

        The degree of soil acidity or alkalinity is expressed in pH units. Soil pH affects many processes in soils, including nutrient availability, activity of microorganisms and root development. The pH of...
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Water Alkalinity

Alkalinity is the ability of the water to neutralize acidity. It refers to the presence of carbonates (CO32-), bicarbonates (HCO3–) and hydroxides (OH–) and expressed in mg/L (ppm) as calcium carbonate (CaCO3). It is also...
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Silicon in plants

After oxygen, silicon (Si) is the second most abundant element in earth’s crust and is a constituent of most minerals. In soil solution, silicon is mainly present as monomeric silicic acid (H4SiO4), which is also...
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Water disinfection

Water disinfection refers to the inactivation of microorganisms that are pathogenic to humans, animals or plants. Inactivation involves destroying essential structures or altering essential functions of microorganism. A microorganism is considered inactivated where: It is...
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Powdery mildew

Powdery mildew is a common, widespread fungal plant disease that a wide variety of crops. There are multiple species of powdery mildew, belonging to the order Erysiphales, each has its own range of hosts. Signs...
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Water treatment

The water treatment process consists of a series of steps to remove or minimize impurities from water and make the water suitable for a particular purpose. The purpose can anything from recreational use of water...
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Types of fertilizers

Fertilizers are compounds that are used in agriculture to supply nutrients for plants.  They can be classified in a variety of ways. A specific fertilizer can belong to multiple fertilizer types. Classification according to the...
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Variable rate irrigation

Variable rate irrigation (VRI) involves applying different amounts of water to different zones of the field, rather than applying one uniform irrigation rate to the entire field. Why use VRI? This innovative technology has many...
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Soil Organic Matter

Soil organic matter refers to the remains of plants, animals and microbes, in different decomposition stages. It consists of: Living soil organisms and plant residues Partially decomposed organic matter (detritus) Fully decomposed, stable organic matter,...
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Thrips damage and control

Thrips are a pest of many agricultural crops. Thrips belong to the order Thysanoptera and feed on plant sap. There are over 5,500 species of thrips and about 75 species of them are pests of...
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Sanitation in the greenhouse

Sanitation is one of the most important practices to reduce or avoid plant diseases in greenhouses. Pathogens, such as fungi, bacteria and viruses can survive well in the environment, including in crop residues, soil, tools,...
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Irrigation management in sugarcane

Sugarcane is one of the most water-demanding crops and water availability is the single largest factors affecting its growth. According to studies, sugarcane yields can decrease by up to 70% under drought conditions. Climate change...
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Rapid sand filtration

In urban areas the slow sand filter simply occupies too much space. Therefore, rapid sand filtration has been developed and has become the most common type of filter for treating municipal water supplies. Typical filtration...
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Soil water content

Water is held in soil in the pores between the soil particles, therefore the maximum amount of water that a specific soil can potentially hold is equal to its porosity (total volume of pores). There...
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Ion exchange

Ion exchange is a water treatment process used to remove undesirable ions from water and replace them with other, desirable ions. The applications of ion exchange in water and wastewater treatment include: Removal of Ca...
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Copper in plants

Copper is an essential plant nutrient, classified as a micronutrient. It has a role in various important processes in plants. For example: Copper is a structural element in numerous proteins Essential for the photosynthesis process...
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Manganese in plants and soil

Manganese is an essential plant micronutrient . It is absorbed by plants as Mn2+. Manganese is an immobile nutrient and, therefore, deficiency symptoms show up on younger leaves first. A manganese level of 20 to...
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Unit conversions tables

  Nutrient form conversions   Nutrient concentration units   Fertilizer rates units From To Multiply by kg/ha (kilograms per hectare) lb/ac (pounds per acre) 0.892 lb/ac kg/ha 1.12 MT/ha (Metric tonne/hectare) tons/acre (short tons/acre) 0.446...
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How to correctly test your soil ?

Soil testing is a key tool in fertilizer management.  It reduces guesswork and helps in minimizing environmental pollution. When done and used properly, soil testing can save the grower money and increase crop yields. The...
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What are urea fertilizers?

Urea fertilizers are widely used in agriculture. They are considered an economic nitrogen source. The chemical formula of urea is CO(NH2)2 and, in nature, urea is excreted in the urine of mammals. Commercial urea fertilizers...
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Beneficial insects

The use of beneficial insects for pest control is becoming increasingly common. The principle behind it is that some types of insects are natural enemies of insect pests. Therefore, by using beneficial insects the use...
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Pre-plant fertilizer application

Depending on the soil type, fertilizers can be applied to crops before planting, right after planting or throughout the growth of the crop. Applying fertilizers prior to seeding or planting is referred to as pre-plant...
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How to read a pesticide label

All pesticides must come with a label, which must follow a certain standards. The pesticide label is a legal document that contains information on how to use the pesticide, handle, store and dispose it, as...
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The Activated Sludge Process

The primary treatment cannot remove all dissolved and fine colloidal organic matter. Therefore, a biological treatment is required for removing those remaining components. All biological processes are based on microorganisms that feed on the organic...
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Early blight of tomato

Early blight is a common tomato disease, which can result in significant economic losses. It is caused by the fungi Alternaria solani or Alternaria tomatophila. The disease favors warm temperatures of 24-29 C and high...
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Nitrogen in plants

Nitrogen is an essential macronutrient, which all plants require for proper growth. It is  an important constituent of the chlorophyll molecule, nucleic acids and proteins. Nitrogen is abundant in the atmosphere and comprises about 78%...
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Fertigation

Fertigation is the application of fertilizers through the irrigation water. It can be applied in almost any irrigated crop, in both open field and greenhouses.  Fertigation allows for a more efficient use of both water...
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The essential plant nutrients

Essential plant nutrients are elements that plants need for proper growth. Sixteen elements are considered essential nutrients for plants. These are carbon (C), oxygen (O), hydrogen (H), nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), calcium (Ca),...
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Wastewater treatment

Wastewater treatment is a multi-stage water treatment, in which wastewater is cleaned before it is: Discharged to a body of water. Used for irrigation Recycled for other purposes. Wastewater plants remove organic matter, nutrients, pathogens...
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Plant diseases

What is a plant disease? A plant disease is defined as abnormal growth of the plant, or interference with the normal function of the plant. 3 conditions must exist in order for a disease do...
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Roles of potassium in plants

Potassium is an essential  plant nutrient, one of the three macro-elements required by plants in relatively large quantities – nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus (NPK). What are the roles of potassium in plants? How does potassium...
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Irrigation water quality

The quality and composition of the irrigation water may affect plant development, soil structure and the irrigation system itself. Irrigation water quality refers mainly to the chemical composition of the water, or more specifically, to...
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Water Disinfection Byproducts (DBP)

The use of some disinfectants, such as chlorine, results in the formation of byproducts, many of them are considered carcinogenic. Disinfection byproducts are formed as a result of a reaction of the disinfectant with several...
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Activated carbon in water treatment

Water treatment with activated carbon is an adsorption process, in which impurities are trapped, by adsorption, on the surface of the carbon particles. The activated carbon particles have a porous micro-structure with a very large...
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Tomato diseases

Tomato plants can be affected by numerous plant diseases, caused by fungi, bacteria and viruses. Disease occurrence and development are greatly influenced by: Air temperature and humidity. Soil moisture. Pests that can transmit the disease....
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Coagulation in water treatment

Water and wastewater may contain suspended and dissolved impurities that must be removed in order to meet certain water quality criteria. These impurities include: Silt Bacteria, algae and viruses Material derived from organic soil matter...
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Irrigation with desalinated water

Desalinated water is being used for irrigation purposes in many places around the world, where the available water source is too saline to be used. Such water sources may include groundwater, sea water and sometimes...
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Water Hardness

Water hardness is defined as the sum of the divalent metallic ions in the water. The main contributors to the hardness of the water are calcium and magnesium. Additional contributors to the hardness of the...
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