Step 2 - Feed Your Soil! (and it's Biology)
4Rs of Nutrient Stewardship
After you have learned the results of your soil tests, you will need to decide what kind and how much of each nutrient your hops will need to thrive. We recommend that you follow the 4Rs of Nutrient Stewardship. When selecting a fertilizer application for your crop, determine the Right Source. To do this determine the fertilizer material that matches your crop's needs. Second, determine the Right Rate or amount that your crop needs. Third, make sure that you are applying fertilizer at the Right Time so that you satisfy the crops nutritional needs. And fourth, make sure that you are applying fertilizer in the Right Place so that those nutrients are available to your hungry hops.
Before you build your trellis and plant your baby hops plants, be sure to apply corrective fertilizer based on your soil test. Ground fertilizers provide nutrients over the entire growing season providing higher yields and healthier plants. These products must be incorporated into the soil in order to be effective. Your can also work in ag-lime if you need to raise the pH of your soil. After planting, You can apply dry fertilizers, liquid fertilizers on the soil surface or liquid fertilizer that is injected into the irrigation water. This process is called fertigation. The benefit of fertigation is that it is very easy to add fertilizer to your plants exactly when it is needed rather that adding too much at the wrong time causing wasted fertilizer leading to the contamination of surface and ground water.
Healthy soils will encourage healthy plants. A healthy soil is teaming with life. Think of the earthworms, grubs, bacteria and fungi that make up the biota of the soil. In order to encourage the growth of the soil-dwelling community, it is essential that hop growers use cover crops to protect the soil from erosion and encourage the critters that live in the soil. You can also apply soil health-encouraging products like Bio-Max from Agro-K to feed the soil biology. Contact Lee for more details at firstname.lastname@example.org.