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Updated: January 20, 2023

Assessing the Extent of Soil Loss from Nursery Tree Root Ball Excavation (EB-442)

A soil quality management issue unique to tree nurseries is the removal of soil off site with sale of the ornamental trees and shrubs, which are harvested with a balled and burlapped (B & B) root ball. The amount of soil removed with B & B harvest and sale has been estimated as much as 5 cm per year. One piece of evidence that has been used to estimate soil loss during B & B tree harvest is the volume of the holes left behind. However, the soil balls wrapped for B & B removal are generally densely permeated with tree roots, leading some to assume that much or most of the ball removed consist of roots rather than soil. There is a dearth of published data on this soil removal or published methods that will allow for reliable calculation of soil being removed from individual enterprises.The main conclusion from this study is that a balled and burlapped (B & B) root ball consists almost entirely (99%) of soil and that the tree roots take up only a negligible portion of the mass and volume. Our results show that in fact the volume of the hole left behind is a reasonable estimate of the volume of soil removed. Authors: Ray Weil, Margaret Guthrie, Chuck Schuster, and Stanton Gill; Title: Assessing the Extent of Soil Loss from Nursery Tree Root Ball Excavation (EB-442)
Updated: May 4, 2022

Hops Production in Maryland: 2017-2018 Hops Trial Growing Season Report and Best Management Practices

This publication details what we have learned from the University of Maryland hops project and includes current production recommendations for growing hops in Maryland. This is a multi-year study and partnership with Flying Dog Brewery that started in 2016.
Updated: April 28, 2022

Manure as a Natural Resource: Alternative Management Opportunities (EB-420)

A new publication (EB-420) is available from University of Maryland Extension. Manure as a Natural Resource: Alternative Management Opportunities is written as an overview of some existing technologies. Many new ideas are proposed for the region, and understanding the science behind them is imperative to deciding which option you may want to follow. Manure, as a source of organic matter and plant nutrients, is an excellent conditioner for soils. It is a component of agronomic production, cycling nutrients between soils, plants and livestock. However, in areas where limited land is available for application, excess soil nutrients can lead to water quality issues. Local restrictions on manure application necessitate finding alternative uses. The simplest method is to transport manure to nutrient-deficient land. Manure can be composted into a higher-quality fertilizer or have the nutrients extracted and sold separately. Manure also has an energy value, and where feasible, anaerobic digestion, pyrolysis, or gasification could be options.
Handful of poultry litter
Updated: January 27, 2021

Salinity Matters for High Tunnels and Growing Media: How to Interpret Salinity Test Results

High tunnels or hoop houses are popular season-extension tools used by urban farmers, vegetable producers, and cut flower growers. One of the benefits of growing in a high tunnel is that it protects crops from excessive rain and keeps their leaves dry, which can reduce the spread of disease. However, soaking rains serve the beneficial purpose of leaching salt accumulated from fertilizers, compost and minerals in the irrigation water down below the root zone. Over time, a lack of soaking rains can result in a build-up of minerals in high tunnel soil, increasing the soil’s salinity. Sometimes a build-up of these minerals appears as a white crust on the surface of high tunnel soil. Salinity is an important consideration for management of healthy soil and growing media, particularly in high tunnels or hoop houses. Electrical conductivity measures salinity, or the total amount of soluble salts or minerals in the soil or growing medium.
Updated: January 26, 2021

Putting Recycled Water to Work in Maryland Agriculture

Farmers need water to grow their crops. But what happens when the freshwater sources farmers rely on become stressed or unavailable? Learn about an innovative partnership between a farmer and a nearby wastewater treatment plant that uses water reuse to safely and efficiently grow crops on one Maryland farm.