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Sustainable: Tidbits:

Replacing fertilizer

British scientists are placing renewed emphasis on replacing fertilizer nitrogen in grassland with atmospheric nitrogen symbiotically fixed in the roots of clover plants and on devising optimum strategies for the grazing management of grass/ clover mixtures. Scientists at the Institute of Grassland and Animal Production have shown that plants inoculated with genetically modified lines of Rhizoblum bacteria containing duplicate dicarboxylate transporter genes, can enhance rates of nitrogen fixation by 16%. Physiological studies of plant/soil/animal interactions, aided by computer modelling, confirm that management guidelines based on sward state are uniquely capable of sustaining an effective clover contribution to grazed grassland mixtures.

from: London Press Service

Vacuum kill beetles

Thomas Equipment Ltd. is beginning limited production of its Beetle Eater vacuum insect collector. First deliveries are scheduled for the summer. The unit can be front or rear tractor-mounted. As it moves through potatoes or other low-growing row crops, a blower shoots air upward through the plants, knocking Colorado potato beetles and other pests loose. At the same time, a vacuum action sucks them up. Dead bugs are subsequently discharged back to the ground. In preliminary field tests by potato processor, McCain Foods Ltd., The Beetle Eater removed and estimated 75% to 80% of potato beetles in one pass. McCain is looking for alternatives to systematic insecticides. The company has ordered some Beetle Eaters for use in its farming operations. For more information, contact Thomas Equipment Ad., Box 130, Centreville, New Brunswick, EOJ 1 HO, (506) 2764511.

Fish waste controls insects

A fish fertilizer company in Maine has found that spraying a liquid fish waste solution on potato plants protects them from aphids and Colorado potato beetles.

``The results look very good. It appears we are on to something entirely new," says William H. Forbes, executive director of the Maine Research and productivity Centre at the University of Maine. Researchers there found a 1 to 10 solution to water ratio most effective.

Spencer Apollonio, marine biologist and consultant to the fertilizer company, Biotherm International, Portland, says insects are attracted to plants that are diseased or stressed. "Plants sprayed with Biostar are so healthy that bugs pass them by," he says. "Unlike other fish products," he adds, "biostar has no emulsifying chemicals."

Although Biostar is not yet available commercially, Herschel Smith Farms, Maine's largest broccoli producer, will test it next year on plants as a bacterial disease control and as an organic fertilizer.

from: Organic Gardening

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