Image Credit: “Rosy Farms” by mastermaq is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
Haskap” by karen_hine is marked with CC PDM 1.0

Over the course of the 2021/2022 growing seasons, the Northern Co-Hort, local agrologist Aaron Mackay, Fixed Earth Innovations and Black Bird Environmental, in partnership with four Peace Region haskap and sour cherry producers, will be conducting research on the application of soil microbes in soft-fruit orchards. Applying Local Beneficial Microbes in Horticulture will test the application of locally-sourced plant beneficial microbes as a technique to increase soil health in haskap and sour cherry production. The goal of the project is to improve soil health and reduce the need for synthetic fertilizer application, which increases climate resilience. Participating producers are Hasberry Farms, Running Acres Farm, Beatton Hills Orchard and Treehouse Haskap.

Early adopters of horticulture crops like haskaps and sour cherries in the Peace Region are well situated to benefit from changing climatic conditions, which are expected to become more beneficial for these crops in the future. Concerns about the soil health implications of continued inorganic fertilizer use have driven numerous producers to seek alternative methods for managing soil nutrients and moving towards climate-friendly practices, including fertilizer reduction. Investing in soil health related research to support sustainable land management within the Peace Region’s emerging horticulture sector is an important and timely step towards the future of climate-friendly, nutrient-dense agricultural production in BC and Canada.

May be an image of food and nature
Image Credit: “sour cherries” by Magalie L’Abbé is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

The first step of this research is to gather beneficial microbes from fruit-bearing woody shrubs in the Peace Region. Once extracted and lab-screened, the second stage is to apply these microbes to the soil in test plots of sour cherry and haskap plants to enhance plant health and production. Finally, monitoring throughout the two growing seasons will track changes in plant growth and soil health, and help producers assess their need for inorganic fertilizer.

This project will feature two on-site COVID-safe producer field days to foster relationship building between producers and to provide current and prospective producers with an opportunity to learn more about soil health and Peace Region horticulture. Mark your calendars – the first of these field days is taking place on August 15, 2021.

Respond to the Northern Co-Hort’s Applying Local Beneficial Microbes in Horticulture event on Facebook and follow @northerncohort on Instagram and Facebook to keep up with our research activities throughout this project!

This project is supported by the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a federalprovincial-territorial initiative, under the Canada-BC Agri-Innovation Program. The  program is delivered by the Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC. 

Opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Governments of Canada and British Columbia or the Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC. The Governments of Canada and British Columbia, and the Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC, and their directors, agents, employees, or contractors will not be liable for any claims, damages, or losses of any kind whatsoever arising out of the use of, or reliance upon, this information.

Interested in becoming a member of the Northern Co-Hort? Click here to explore the benefits of our Co-Hort memberships! Including discounted events, access to student support for your farm, hands-off sales and more!


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