Date of Award
Master of Science
Plant and Soil Science
Traditional vineyard floor management in the eastern USA consists of mown resident vegetation in the aisle and herbicide bare driplines, promoting soil erosion and crusting, compaction, lowered water penetration, herbicide resistance, difficult weed management, increased plant parasitic nematode populations and decreased soil biodiversity for pest management. To investigate these issues, four novel vineyard floor management techniques and two N-fertilizer applications were investigated using nematode assemblages as a bioindicator of soil health. Main-plot groundcover treatments include: 1.) grower control, consisting of mown fescue (Festuca arundinacea) in the aisle with herbicide bare vine dripline, 2.) red fescue, creeping red fescue (Festuca rubra L.) established in both the aisle and vine dripline, 3.) successional, annually planted cereal rye (Secale cereale L.), spring oats (Avena sativa L.), and sorghum-sudan grass (Sorgum x drummondii) by planting them in succession with a no-till drill throughout the year, 4.) compost treatment consisted of a 2 to 1 mix of hardwood mulch and composted winery pomace applied across both the vineyard aisle and vine dripline. Split-plot nitrogen treatments include: 1.) no nitrogen fertility applied to grapevines, 2). 20 lb. N/ac applied to grapevine dripline at budbreak, bloom and veraison. The randomized complete block design with four main-plot treatments, two split-plot treatments and five blocks was established in 2013 and 2014 in a commercial mature Norton vineyard, planted in 2003, at 2.44 x 3.66 m spacing, in southern Illinois on a Hosmer silt-loam. The canonical analysis of principle components clearly revealed that compost and successional treatments were particularly effective at shifting nematode assemblages to higher populations of cp-5 nematodes to correlate with increases in soil respiration and organic matter, thus indicating establishment of a stable soil health structure both physically and ecologically. The results of the soil health analysis panel (soil respiration, water extracted organic carbon and water extracted macro-and micro-soil elements), consistently supported the interpretation of nematode community structure analysis. In fall 2015 the compost, red fescue and successional groundcovers combined with P and K soil fertility amendments increased water extractable K (WEK) in the aisle by 85%, 59% and 71%, respectively, compared to control; they similarly increased WEK in the aisle by 46%, 59% and 71%, respectively, in summer 2016. In the dripline WEK was increased 140%, 238% and 249%, respectively, by compost, red fescue and successional treatments that received no-N-prescription, compared to the control. The application of prescription-N increased WEK by 25% and 21%, respectively, in the compost and successional treatments that had a generous mulch layer. Soil P response to groundcover treatment clearly distinguished among each treatment the impact of nutrient turnover levels with water extracted P levels: successional > red fescue > compost > control, unique to each treatment. The water extracted mineral element levels detected with the soil health analysis were one-half to one-ninth the concentration extracted with the Mehlich-III test. Red fescue tripled the population of Pratylenchus spp. (236/100cc soil) in the dripline with prescription-N fertilization compared to no-N. Red fescue and successional treatments increased Helicotylenchus spp. populations by ~657% and ~172%, respectively, compared to compost (92/100cc soil) which closely resembled control response average in the dripline across 2015 and 2016. Prescription-N reduced Longidorus spp. by 78% compared to no-N treatment (23/100cc soil) in the dripline of fall 2015. Additionally, prescription-N added to the red fescue and successional treatments reduced Xiphinema spp. populations by 57% and 92%, respectively, compared to the control (52/100cc soil). Compost and successional groundcover treatments dramatically increased grapevine yield and crop size by 38% and 30%; and 29% and 38%, respectively, compared to grower control. The prescription N-fertilizer increased yield and crop size by 13% and 17%, respectively, compared to no-N. Compost and successional also increased Ravaz index by 33% and 60%, respectively, over control without reducing vine size which indicated their future vineyard sustainability.
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