Archive for August, 2009

Term-III, Week-6 (24th – 28th August)

Friday, 28th August: Marking out / Planting Trees

Today we were at Bannockburn campus. As usual, Alex was leading the practical day. During the first hour he was talking about berries. Berries have a high demand in the horticulture industry. New Zealand is a good market place for all kind of berries. But berries are different from all other fruits. They are perishable, expensive for picking, storing issues etc are major issues in the berry production. Beside these issues, climate, frost, birds and  other such are also concerned. Most of the berry farmers  prefer the methods like PYO (pick Your Own) system, gate sales and pack and sell at near by shops (local market) . Different kind of berries are in the market. Strawberry,  Blackberry, Raspberry, Cloudberry, Wineberry, Bilberry or Whortleberry, Blueberry, Huckleberry, Barberry, Gooseberry, Nannyberry or sheepberry, Mulberry are them.  Strawberries are herbaceous perennials, but they produce small fruits after two years. Annual or biennial cultural methods are acceptable.

Replanted Asian Pears

Replanted Asian Pears

Strawberries are grown on raised beds traditionally covered with black polythene. Drip type irrigation is often laid on top of the mound underneath the polythene. Distances between rows depend on the type of equipment being used as it is important to be able to straddle rows to lay polythene and for spraying. Common distances are 760mm, 800mm or 900mm. Plant spacing depends on the variety and whether plants are to be kept for several seasons. For one year cropping, plants are usually planted in a staggered double row 200-250mm apart. For multi-year cropping, plants are usually grown in single rows 150-200mm apart. Wheat or barley straw or saw dust are commonly used between the rows to keep the fruit free from rain splash and to prevent weed germination. Bales are usually sterilised before laying to prevent seed germination. Use rate of straw is commonly around 250-300 bales per hectare.

Nashi

Nashi

Varieties are listed as being either Short day, Day Neutral or Intermediate. While these categories are used the boundaries between them are not always clear. Short day varieties are those where flower initiation is triggered by short day lengths, and fruit production is normally limited to the October – December period. However some flowering and fruiting may continue later than this, depending on the variety, climatic and crop loading factors. In climates such as Auckland where the distinction between short and long days is not noticeably marked, it is common for many short day types to continue cropping well into January and beyond. In more southern latitudes like Canterbury, the distinction is quite clear and short day varieties will commonly finish fruiting around Xmas time. Day neutral varieties are unaffected by day length and will fruit whenever temperatures are high enough to maintain growth. Intermediate varieties will normally produce a second crop from February to May, following a first crop in October to December. First year plants may produce some fruit from January to March.

Black currents

Black currents

Mites, botrytis and birds are the common pest and diseases for most berries. Berry fruits are available from summer to next autumn. All over it was a  bundle of information about different kind of berries and its market opportunities. I personally think that, I have to find more time to understand thoroughly about all these berries. I will do the same soon.

After the morning tea, Alex assigned the days practical task. Some of us engaged with lifting, dividing and replanting of traditional raspberries. It was one of the most favourable verity named Autumn Bliss. Some others engaged with removing lavender and cleaning the garden. They have pruned some Roses also. Some others were digging and preparing the bed for raspberry planting. Chris, Maju and myself were doing pruning of plum trees  up to lunch time. After the lunch we lifted some Asian Pears (Nashi) “ Danbae” from the  end of the pip fruit block and replanted them on the newly prepared bed.  Later on we gave a hand for raspberry planting. After that help others to complete the blackcurrant  pruning. Overall it was an amazing practical day with lot of outcomes. I really appreciate Alex for his excellent capability for allocation of works and work time utilization and its management.

 
 Daffodil day is here….. !!!!!
Daffodil Day

Daffodil Day

 

 Thursday, 27th August: Propagation – Nursery

Black currents - flowering

Black currents - flowering

Fig - fruits

Fig - fruits

It was windy in the whole night. I was pretty sure that  drizzly in the morning. Their was some cold fronts passing over through the NZ. Especially over the South Island. But no chance of heavy rain in this area. When I wake up in the morning, it was cloudy and drizzly. Another propagation day. Jo is going to lead us today. Took my rain coat also. Jo announced the list of programmes of this propagation day. There was some Daisy to propagate. Daisy is a herbaceous  and it never gets woody. Suzie and Chris

Click here for Geranium propagation

Click here for Geranium propagation

made the cuttings and placed them on  hygiene trays filled with sand. For the root developments, we used Seradix B-1 rooting hormone. These cuttings really do not want rooting hormones. Just for a stimulation…. It was a time to look around the Glass Houses. At GH-I, all the cuttings are looking well. New roots and shoots are coming out.. Even some fruits and flowers also. Lilly scales are developing roots.. Geraniums are ready to move to new place. Sreekumar and myself made Punnett mix (A quick start potting mix and use Osmocote mini in this) for propagate this seedlings. Carefully taken out these seedlings one by one and placed them in the punnets. Send them to the GH-4 for growing up. We have propagated some other seedlings also. Sreekumar, Sajimon and myself  propogated some Cyclamen hederifolium. It was a time to look around the GH-4. What is happening with our hanging baskets….??? It all looking well. Removed all the flower buds.. we don’t want them now. This is the time to grow. A ten minutes weeding was enough to remove all the weeds from our containers where all the new cuttings and seedlings grow.  Orchid flowers are looking beautiful… In the afternoon session, we took some ornamental grape vine cuttings from the GH-1. Most of them are either Vitis ex Jo-ornamental or Vitis ‘July Muscat’. Good root developments. Buds are busted and some of them developed new leaves. Potted them on two litter containers. Placed tags and send them to GH-4 for further growth.  Some of us planted around fifty  strawberries in the hydroponics. We  have cleaned the propagation room and later on went to the peony divison for weeding. Lots of couch grass are stated to grow here. We have already removed all these couch  rhizomes couple of months before. Now all these new developments are from the seeds. Carefully removed  all them with hand forks.

Ornamental Grapes

Ornamental Grapes

Snowflakes

Snowflakes

Three o clock. Time to finish the day. Everybody gathered in the propagation room. As announced in the morning, demonstration of “Plant profile presentation”.  She collected some Snowflake from the near by veggie garden. Leucojum aestivum is the botanical name of this plant. It can propagates from bulbs and make white flowers on the spring. Already flowers are here. This plant came from part of Europe and Middle East. Very useful for landscape purpose. Everybody get a chance to present one plant on each propagation day. Good idea… learning is a never ending process…. Excellent propagation day… I think that I did not do anything more. No physical tasks. Just kidding kind of activities….. But lots of experience and great knowledge. While doing the weeding, Jo told that “ Baby cleaver” (a weed). But we people, Chris, Sreekumar and Myself converted them in to “Baby clever”. Because some of us very clever on most practical / propagation days. My weather forecast was very very accurate till at the end of the day. Not much drizzle and very calm and sunny day. Daffodils are shining around… …Daffodil day is here….. !!!!!

Wednesday, 26th August: Tutorial

Another tutorial day…… Jo has prepared and displayed a list of demands on this tutorial day…. Subjects like soils and weeds finished. Compost is going to start soon. Assignments of these are getting due… Alex is little unhappy for people getting absent on practical days.. This is the time to update all the pending blogs…. List goes like…. She  handed over some assignments which we submitted couple of days before. Thanks GOD, I have successfully completed all my assignments. Now my Soils, weeds and hand pruning grape vines are due and hope that I can complete them with in few days… I am little tired on these days…. I don’t know the real reason…. If I am right, it may be because of the week end works + week days classes. No more time to relax. Home sickness is making me more tired. I really miss my Miya’s (daughter) smiles. As per my parents, she is talking, laughing and running around. Sometimes I get frustrate about my fate. When I meet her next time… she will become much aged girl……..

 I chose  this day to update my blogs and work with soil assignments. Whenever I sit with blogs, I get so pathetic because of the broadband performance. Really slow….. I have checked the speed couple of days before and it shows less than 320 kbps… this speed with this kind of computer configuration make things more worse.  In the afternoon, few of us went VTNZ Alexandra for our driving licence procedure. All of us successfully completed the theory test… Relax… one step is finished. After that, I was was working with soil assignments up to late evening. A multi-task day…..Good day…

Tuesday, 25th August: Weeds

Is it a Weed?????

Is it a Weed?????

There was little rain in the morning. Many people were absent… for many reasons….  Another day for learning about weeds. We have finished the class of weeds here. We have covered the points like how can control the biennial and perennial weeds, What is biological control, types and how they work.. It is a traditional methods of weed control. Use some living organism to control the weeds. Initial cost of implementing this control is very high. Most of the cases, it will be very success and running cost is too low. It takes long time to work and get in action. Integrated weed control is the most popular method adopt during these days. It is a combination of two or methods like cultural, physical, biological and chemical controls.  At the end of the session, we have discussed about our weed management plan. We have to design a weed management plan for the vineyard located at our Bannockburn campus. Half of the work has already completed. It has four steps. Study, develop, implement and monitor a weed control management. The first two parts will be done by us. Study and develop. An effective weed management is only achieved through a planned approach. After completion of the notes, we have discussed about the assignment of this topic. We have to complete this including the Weed specimen collection before end of this semester. Hope that it will be done on time…..

Monday, 24th August: Soils

Last day for Soils…. Ohhhh.. realy tired after the weekend works. One day working with vineyard and another day in orchard. Then  study soils on Monday morning… nothing will get in the memory…. Class starts  with continuation of soil organic matter and how it affects the sustainability of soil living organism. Trichoderma is a fungi which strongly antagonistic to other fungi. They are predators.. Mycorrhiza is also another such kind of thing. Earth worms really doing a great job in the soils. They do cultication. They can even change the structure of the soil. Cultication and  ripping can also make much more changes in the soils. Soils profile can get change by drainage also. Panting techniques, compaction by vehicle and machinaries can also make impacts in the soil. Irrigation, fertiliseer application, cover crop planting, conservation tillage, erosion control methods, crop rotation, inter planting, mulching and contouring can also make different kind of impacts in the soil structure, organic matters and richness of the soils.  There was a video about soils played before lunch. It was a very useful one to collect many information regarding soils. After the lunch, we have discussed the assignments and started to work with ‘Soils – Assignments. Assignments are due….. successful completion of these helps to relax.

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Term-III, Week-5 (17th – 21st August)

Friday, 21st August: Fencing Skills

Box End Assembly

Box End Assembly

I was really sick in the morning. Feeling severe headache and send a text to Trevor about my inconvenience to reach on time. Missing a practical day  costs too much. After having a painkiller, I got little relief and reached campus at 11:30 AM. It was a day for Fencing skills. All of them have already made a box end strainer assembly in the campus and Alex explained the technical side of that things… When I reached, all of them were doing Rose pruning. I joined with them to do some pruning and racking all . I am confident that I can also do Rose pruning with out much struggles. After the lunch, few of us become absent. They went to Dunedin for participating Indian Independence Day celebrations. We shifted some roses from one block to other block. Alex and Trevor with us to help in all the things. Later some people were practising in the ATVs, some others were

Rose pruning systems

Rose pruning systems

Rose pruning

Rose pruning

pruning and cleaning near by blocks.  After that we lifted some autumn raspberries from the nearby block and planted them on the newly prepared bed. It was an another interesting task. Lifted them with spade, divided and planted in the new bed. We planted around 5X30=150 each in two blocks. After the recap of the day, at the end there was another lucky winner got one wall clock. Another great day with full of works and enjoyments. I really enjoyed the things… But I really missed the fencing skills in the morning and Alex assured me to help an another day. I am sure that I can also achieve this with out much efforts.

 Thursday, 20th August: Propagation – Nursery

Tree after pruning

Tree after pruning

Yes…. Another propagation day… Today our Jo is away to Dunedin. Alex, Trevor and Katherin were with us to guide and monitor the developments. Spring is here. Everything is started to grow up. Peony is looking the sun. Willows are started to developm leavs. Grasses are getting green.  Some flowers also appeared here and their.. Alex explained about today’s programmes. Some of us continue with the seeding which was  carried out on last week. Some others engaged in making potting mix  and supporting things.. Alex directed us to some other interesting tasks.

Peony is here

Peony is here

We had to cut and remove some pittosporum tenuifolium and cabbage trees behind the office block, clean the garden and remove unwanted stuffs from near by hydroponics. (glass house). We have used the sophisticated technology to take out all the root systems  of these plants. Alex brought the Sami tractor from our other campus. A chain which is connected behind the tractor tied with plants on the ground level and moved the tractor forward gently. Simple….. plant (even sized trees) pulled out very easily. Even big cabbage trees pulled out with out much efforts. I was astonishing that, if we use labour to execute these task, how much it can cost……Trevor cut down all these tress with a chainsaw. Loaded all the stuffs in the trailer and send them to Bannockburn campus for making compost… After that we turned near to Glasshouse and removed some heavy rooted grass and some other plants. It was a  executed with the help of Shovel, spade and saw. Temperature was above 10 degree and it was really sweating on that time.  Great jobs…. Good team work and completed a number of tasks.

Wednesday, 19th August: Tutorial (Pruning  Grape vines at Arthure Point)

Pruning

Arthure Point - Click here for Video

Who pruned these all????!!!

Who pruned these all????!!!

Another frosty morning. I reached polytech at 8:30 AM. As decided before, today we all went to Arthure Point, a place near to Queenstown.  There were 550 grape vines were to be pruned. It was totally a different concept of pruning and training mature grape vines. One lady keeps some vines around her hill palace. Very enriched soil, but full of rocks. Some of the grapes have planted on the holes of the rocks after making holes by blast. Really strange things. But lots of nutrients and water make these vines a vigorous growth. No fencing, no irrigation, no trellis systems, no wires. Simple a peace wood in 1X1 size at 6-7 feet long placed for each vines to make support. It was a kind of cane pruning. Select two canes each with 5-6 buds on them. Just bend them both direction and tie on the support. Leave one or two spares for next season. Simple pruning techniques. Alex and Trevor with us to guide and instruct. We have pruned, tied , removed all the prunings from the place and  made the place clean and tidy before 1:30 PM. Four small blocks (I can not say this a block) with nearly 120 plants each on a steep place. It is a wonderful place to see the natural beauty. A good of  jet boating from this place. We had a tea break and lunch break during the works. On the way back to polytech, we just stopped at Arrowtown for a couple of minutes. One glass of draught beer was nothing enough to beat the heat. Reached polytech at around 2.30 PM. A warm day with lots of fun and works. We will use the income from today’s work for meeting the  expenses while going for the field trip to Omaru.

 Tuesday, 18th August: Weeds

Cotton thistle with Shepherd's purse

Cotton thistle with Shepherd's purse

A pleasant morning. I am free from little  tension that I have already submitted some of my assignments. Now the toughest one is getting due. Soils… three more assignments. Weeds – topic is going to get over soon. Weed specimen collection is also pending now. Roger came with a question paper nick named “Morning Wake-up call!!!” contains eight questions. All the questions are related to weeds and given couple of minutes to answer all the questions. Most of us have completed well. We discussed all the answers in the same time. Very healthy practise to recap the topics. I really appreciate these things… weed control methods continued today. UV weed burner, Hot water control , flame weeding and mechanical controls… But chemical control is the most popular and effective methods on these days. We have covered the points like what is herbicides, what chemical they contain, how they works, methods used to apply them,  what and when they will destroy. Herbicides are mostly two types. Systemic and contact. Systemic herbicides have an ability to translocate in the plant and kill the whole part of the plant. But contact herbicides can work only where they come in contact with the plants. Both of them have many advantages and disadvantages. Herbicides are selective or non selective. Non selective have a broad spectrum capability. They can kill all most of the all plants. But selective can destroy only selected plants. Most of the herbicides apply on leaves. Some of them applied on the soil. They are suitable only when we do pre planting weed controls. Non selective herbicides can apply when on the pre emergence stage. Selective and contact herbicides are suitable when do post emergence weed controls. Most of the herbicides are in the form of Solution or wettable powder. Some herbicides are on the form of emulsion, granule or dust. Popular herbicides like Glyphosate (Roundup), Glufosinate (Buster) and Simazine are popular.

 In the afternoon we went to Bnnokburn campus to prepare the weed management plan. Used our part of the vineyard (approximately 1.056 hector) to prepare  the same. I used measuring wheel to measure the plot. Later we identified some weeds and marked the areas where any of the particular weed appears mostly. Weed management plan is under construction and it will be published soon.

 Monday, 17th August: Soil

Soil structure

Soil structure

Another brain storming soil class. We wiil be more tired on Monday mornings. Week end works….. Roger started the class with nutrient deficiency symptoms in  plants. Almost all the macro nutrient deficiency symptoms looks same and very difficult to distinguish them.  When the topic extend to CEC (Cation Exchange Capacity) things become worse. This is the core of all the soil story. How nutrients stored in the soil, how them be available to plants, how them leaching down and accumulating etc…. Negative charges attract the positive charged nutrients. If this CEC gets clear, most of the technical aspects of the soil is clear. Hydrogen controls all the nutrient movements in the soil. Chelate is the soluble molecule. It has no charges and moving around in the soil. When plants need them, they absorb that. Anions are something different from CEC. Clays have the occasional positive charges but phosphate grabs them all. All the Phosphate supplied in the soil will not become available for the plant. Phosphate retention (Occlusion) is the process which phosphate can be fixed (make them unavailable to plants). Iron and Aluminium oxide make a coating on the phosphate. That is the reason we use much phosphate in the soil. PH can play an important roll . PH is the concentration of positive charges of the Hydrogen.

 At the end of the day I evaluated myself and concluded that, I have put more efforts to make all these things very clear and fix in the brain. Hope that Roger will help me.

Trem-III, Week-4 (10th-15th August)

Butter Chicken

Butter Chicken

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dinner is ready

Dinner is ready

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Lectures enjoy dinner

Our Lectures enjoying the dinner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friends and families

Friends and families - Click here for Video

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday, 15th August: India’s Independence Day celebration

There was no work on this Saturday. Because today is our nation’s independence day. On the midnight of 14th of August 1947, India become Independence. This year we have celebrated this moment with our polytechnic – staff and co-students. It was something new that everybody make dish each. Programme – Celebration of India’s Independence Day. Venue – Molyneux Restaurant (Polytechnic Campus) Date and time : 6:00 PM, 15th August 2009.

There was a meeting with Chris Lucas from NZFRIEND at 11.00 AM. It was an opportunity to discuss about some serious concerns of our coming years. Everybody joined in that. Alex was also present from the polytech side. NZFRIEND assured that they will resolve all the issues and release the outcomes soon.

 After the meeting, went back to home and cooked  the dishes and joined the dinner at 6.00 PM. I made Butter chicken. Heard that I was yummy. Trevor helped me to carry the item to Polytech. “Bring a plate” is the good  system. Different verities. Sambar, Morucurry, Mutton fry, Prawn fry, Payar (peas) curry  etc…  Vikash made delicious Gulab jamun. Semiya (vermicelli) payasam was also here. Many Kiwi Indian Dishes  made by polytech staff and co-students were also something extravaganza. We sang the National Anthem before the dinner. I took the small clips of the same. Some of our Indian friends intentionally hide away from singing the national Anthem. It is shameful for them to sing with us. If there families and friends come to know that the real life!!!!!!!! Grate Indians…Wonderful dinner!!!! Everybody enjoyed!!!!! No Spicy….. but spicy for some of our kiwi friends…..delicious dinner and wonderful memories.  See the photos and videos here…

Friday, 14th August: Frost Control

Another day at Bannockburn campus. Today we have sit with Alex and Trevor  to learn some methods commonly used for Frost Control. Around 180-190 Ground frosts and 70-80 Air frosts occurs in the Cromwell area every year. By using the frost alarms and watching the weather changes we can recognise  the  frost chances. Frost fighting g should start  before the temperature reached below 0.  0.5 to 0.75 is the best timing for this. Knowing the growth stage of  the plant (is it bud burst or flower or fruit) is an important for frost fighting. Two critical timing  – one in this spring and other in the coming autumn. For Orchard people, spring season frost is very critical. The coming autumn frost is critical for vineyards. By using wind machines, stack heater and irrigation, we can control the frost up to a level. Advantages and disadvantages of these have already covered in the frost session.

 After the tea break, we started pruning  the grape vines at the campus. Cane pruning and spur pruning. After the pruning some of us were engaged with dropping wires in the vine trellis. Some others fixed fencing which removed for the young viticulturist competition. Some others were engaged with digging out and planting the suckers from the stone fruit and pip fruit orchards. Myself and Gandhi taken out all the sprinklers, cleaned, checked and fitted them back and run the irrigation system. All the sprinklers in the vineyard are functioning successfully. We were engaged up to 4.30 PM and Trevor and Alex helped us to guide and monitor the things. At the end of the day Trevor helped us to drain the irrigation system well. Thanks for their support. Great experience and wide knowledge.

Thursday, 13th August: Propagation – Nursery

Orchid flowers at GH-4

Orchid flowers at GH-4

As usual I came with great expectations  for this propagation day. Jo has prepared the agenda of the day’s programme in the board. It was totally focusing for the expected Giant plant sale which will be held on 24th October. We have to prepare many verities of flowers, vegetables and herbs. All of us got together and sowed different verities of seeds. We sowed Geraniums, Delphiniums, Dainthus, Pansies, Lobelias, Snapdragons, Liatris, Chives, Italian and triple curled Parsley, Basil and Coriander. Most of these seeds are very tiny and used different techniques to sowed them in the Hygiene tray. For this we have used 1:1 ratio of potting mix and sand. Filled them in the Hygiene tray in the minimum level layer by pressing gently. Covered them by using the fine vermiculate  and send it to GH-1 for germination. Hope that most of them will be germinated before our next propagation day. We have sowed some basil seeds. The method used for  sowing was little diffeent. 1.5 litter pots filled with potting mix and placed the seed on them and covered with 1:1 sand + potting mix. I was mostly helping everybody by making enough potting mix for them.

 This day we have got a chance to have a look in the GH-1. All the cuttings and seedlings are survived the winter. Germinated, bud raised and even new shots and roots. Nice to see them. Some of the tray have already moved to GH-4 for hardened off. Vitis (Grape vine cuttings) – Roots are running out through the pots. But no bud burst. Figs and black currents buds have busted, but no visible roots developments yet. We have looked around the GH-4 to see the development. Lots of new growths. Some trays are ready for poting. Orchids flowers are smiling in the GH-4!!!!!. Done little weeding here. Hanging baskets are looking good… They are made by Sphagnum moss and after absorbing the water they looks different. Hanging basket plants are started flowering. We really don’t that flowers now. We need flowers only when taking to them Alexandra.  In the afternoon session, we small groups engaged with small different activities in an around the nursery. Day ended with lots of new experience and outcomes.  Jo and Trevor was leading us in the nursery. But Jo did not write anything in the board. I think that she is becoming little technically versatile. Used the smart board and web logs to update the things… Ingenuity… !!!! I got this word from Jo while planting some Garlic plants in the pots 

Wednesday, 12th August: Tutorial – Soils

This tutorial day, we were working with Soils assignments. Completed the Assignment unit 22174 and stared the assignment unit 22175. Unit 22175 assignment is little big and need more efforts to complete them. After the class room session some of us went to library, and computer room to work with assignments and blogs. In the Afternoon Rob Luke was here to help us improve the language proficiency.  I got a wonderful chance to meet the student which doing their supervisory course here. Jo Brun invited me to share some moments with that people to discuss the cultural differences. It was for around half an hour. Thanks for providing such opportunities for me. I am so happy  in such kind of events

Tuesday, 11th August: Weeds

Storksbill - a weed

Storksbill - a weed

I was really scare  about today’s weed ID test from last night. Today we had to identify minimum 15 common weeds of New Zealand. Roger had been arranged all. 25 common weeds in the table with tags. He divided the total strength in to two and send the half of them to Room No.1 to identify the weeds. I was in the first session and somehow I managed to identify 16 weeds correctly and just passed the test. As a suggestion I told him to conduct more tests at end of this weeds session. People from the second half have identified the weeds with out any difficulty. Because some of us passed the information that which weed in the serials. After the ID test, classes continue with methods to reduce the soil seed bank.  It can be possible by keeping water races weed free, clean the equipments and machinery after use, use seed free manures, rotate crops and herbicides, manipulate cropping systems, identify the species of weeds and manipulate  them and avoid live stock movements etc.  Preventing the seed production is very important. Weeds have one or more features which improve their chance of survival. Some weeds have physical and chemical defence system to survive themselves.  Like pest control, weed control is also possible by the methods like cultural, physical, biological, chemical and integrated.

 In the afternoon session we went to lowburn valley to complete the process of assessing and evaluating  the composition and properties of the soil.

Monday, 10th August: Soils

Soil composition

Soil composition

Vineyard soils

Vineyard soils

This Monday, we have started with a new unit (soil – unit 22175) The Soils, we have to do four assignments with total credits of thirty five. Most of the basic points are same from the last unit  (22174). Formation of parent material in the soil . They are mostly formed by the way of  Alluvium or colluvium. Alluvium is a sediment deposited by flowing water, as in a riverbed, flood plain, or delta. Colluvium is a   loose deposit of rock debris accumulated through the action of gravity at the base of a cliff or slope. Influence of topography, aspect and time are very important.   Other thing we learned today that, how water held in soil. Water molecules are attracted to surfaces and it is called Adhesion. Same time water molecules are attracted to each other. It is called cohesion. Movement of water in to the soil be called Infiltration. Movement of water through the soil is called Flocculation and movement of water out to the soil is called Drainage. Pore size is very impotent for water holding. Small pores hold water long but they will not easily available to the plants. But the soil with large pores will help the plants to get the water very easily to the plants, but drain out fast. Milk shale analogy was the best example of soil water availability. 

During the second session, we went to lowburn valley to understand more about soil structure. It was an experience in assessing and evaluating the composition and properties of soil.

Term-III, Week-3 (03rd – 07th August)

Monday, 03rd August: Soil.

New week starts here. First week of August…. Winter is getting light. Mercury is rising up. Some of us were little tired on this day because of the hard work on weekends.  This weekend, One day I was working with vineyard and another day with orchard. On this third day of soil classes, I have learned topics like soil classifications in New Zealand, Macro nutrients and Micro nutrients. Soil can be grouped together in to classifications depending on the properties of the soil and the underlying concepts of how the soils are  classified together. In New Zealand the ‘Old NZ system and ‘Old’ NZ system 2. In the  old system, soils were classified like Brown Grey Earth and Yellow Grey Earth etc,,,. The old system 2 developed with reports and publications produced prior to 1995 and some produced after 1995 will refer to the old system. The new system (Hewitt) soils are classified together depending on their observable properties. Its is  in the hierarchical form like Orders, Groups, sub groups and series. Semi arid soil, pallic soil, brown soil, gley soil and  Podzol soil are different common soil systems in New Zealand. I personally prefer the soils like Semi Arid and Brown soils. These are the good soils to develop something in New Zealand.

 Tuesday, 04 August: Weeds

Collecting weeds

Collecting weeds

Third day of learning weeds. Roger brought some different verities of  weeds form his land and neighbouring places. He placed them on the table for an ID test. It was a mock test prior to our final ID test which is going to happen after a couple of weeks. We had to identify at least 15 weeds from the twenty weeds. Most of us have identified more than ten  weeds. Good practical experience. After the tea break we have gone through the new learning. How weeds can be classified. They can be classified in to their growth type, life cycle and origins. They can also be classified on their growth type like Grasses, broad leaves, herbaceous and woody. Weeds have also a life cycle. They may be from Ephemeral, Annual, Biennial, Perennial (herbaceous or Woody) Knowing life cycle is very important to control a weed. Ephemeral weeds are really  just a very fast annual. They can complete life cycle in six weeks and creates many generations per year. Eg. Bitter cress. Annual weeds complete life cycles in less than a year. They do not have storage organs like rhizomes, tubes or bulbils to survive in winter. Their survival depend on seed.  Annual weeds are divided in to two category. Summer annuals and winter annuals. Fathen like weeds germinates in spring. They are  summer annuals. Chickweeds like weeds germinates in autumn. They are called winter annuals. Some of this annual weeds like chickweed, groundsel and bitter cress grow all year.

Biennial weeds are less common. They have two years life cycle. First year they grow and survive with a big tap root. On second year, they flower, set seed and die.  They also be like annuals and rely on seed and do not have rhizomes, bulbils  or tubers.  Eg like woolly mullein, scotch thistle and hemlock.

Perennial weeds  have a life cycle of more than two years. They are herbaceous or woody. They usually survive winter and seasons via woody stems or underground storage organs like tubers, taproots or rhizomes. Dandelion, Catsear, White Clover, St. John’s Wort and Californian thistle are examples of herbaceous perennial. Gorse, Broom, Old man’s beard, Crack willow, Briar and lodgepole pines are examples of woody perennial weeds. Most of the perennial weeds reproduced by seeds. Many others have underground storage organs  they are able to produce a new plant. Yarrow, Couch and some grasses spreads through rhizomes. Weeds like Californian thistle spreads by creeping roots – forms big patches. Stolon are also a way to spread some weeds.  Weeds like white clover and  hieracium spreads by stolon.

 Weed seed  is a plant or weed packed for transport. Weed seeds can help in species multiplication, source of food for embryo to produce a new seed, survival during unfavourable conditions and transport of new genetics. Today’s most attractive word is “Soil Weed Seed Bank”. It is a viable weed seeds present on the surface and in the soil. There are number of weed seeds in the soil and they  are alive for many years. Examples like one woolly mullein  can produce 223200 seeds at a time. Dandelion and fathen can produce 15000 and 70000 seeds respectively. Many things can happen Weed seed bank. Some of them eaten by insect or vertebrates, some others can get too old and die. Some others can be attacked by fungi or bacteria. Limited numbers can be damaged by implements. Some of them get buried under the soil and become dormant. Very less percentage of seeds  germinate and produce more weeds and seeds.  Some seeds may longevities  many years  like poa annua for 68 years, shepherd’s purse for 35 years, Anzac poppy for 26 years, Groundsel for 58 years, fathen for 40 years. Continuous use of one particular herbicide in a particular land may provide resistance power to seeds and weeds. An interchange in the application can help to overcome this problems.

 In the afternoon session, we have walked around the Old Cromwell town on the river bed to find and recognise more weeds. It was an opportunity to collect some more new weeds and later on come back to classroom to identify some of that unknown weeds.

Wednesday, 05th August: Tutorial

Volleyball Team

Volleyball Team

As announced couple of days before, this tutorial day Roger is assisting us to clear some points and complete the Soil- assignment. Before starting the tutorial, Alex has returned the assignment- Unit 21557 (Pests, diseases and disorders). Most us have successfully passed the assignment. Along with Trevor and Roger, he has explained the expected programmes for celebrating India’s Independence Day on 15th of August. I had a plan in mind that to use this occasion. It is a real opportunity to introduce some food, culture and history of India. As decided, we have to prepare some Indian dishes on that day and dine with our staff and friends. Good idea. Great opportunity.

 Roger has explained each and every questions on the assignment sheet. For me it was a chance to recap and conclude the topic ‘Soil’. I am sure that no one else can help to explain the answers like this. Just like to KG students….. After couple of hours of tutorial, I went to computer lab for complete my last weeks blogs. Hope that I can complete my assignments – Organic Certification and Soils- with in a week.

 We have got a new volleyball court near by Hydroponics.  Hopefully a great team can be raised from here. I will be more happy that if it a group of Kiwis and Indians.

Thursday, 06th August: propagation – Nursery.

 A frosty morning for propagation. Alex and Trevor were managing us today. Jo was away from us and busy with some other students in Bannockburn campus. Alex and Trevor have collected some scions from the near by orchards a day before. Alex has started his talks with today’s programme. Topics started with cherry tree bulk production techniques. How to do grafting on cherries, how much it cost, how much it can get while selling in the market, how to get root stocks, how suckers get develop and many other details. It was really useful these information. In the propagation unit, we soaked news paper and packed all cherry and apple stocks. Label and kept them on the fridge. They will remain  in the fridge  and on November we will take them out and do graft in the root stock. Samba cherries and Sunrise apples are alive in the fridge now. After the tea break, we half of the people along with Alex went to a near by sheep farm to collect sheep manure for our community vegetable garden located at the Bannockburn campus.  It was a verity task to collect the sheep manure from under the platform. Dwarfism is an advantage for doing this work. Unfortunately, except one, all of us were average in height.

After the lunch got assigned some other kind of works. Some others went for collecting the sheep manure. I pruned the apple tree (different verities on one apple tree – grafted by Alex) behind the computer room. After that, myself and Chris have made some boundary alignments  near the peony division. After completing the task, made some attempts to fix the  glass channels of Hydroponics chamber. Hydralada is required for fixing the rest. Sajimon, Ghandi and Cindy were doing hedge trimming of shelter trees with Hydralada. Engaged with some other small tasks and finished them on time. Alex and Trevor was guiding us on all the day.

Before winding up the day, we gathered in the propagation room for the recap of the day. Alex explained about qualities of the sheep manure. Hardly 1% of Nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus on the sheep manure. It is ideal for vegetable garden and small areas. For large areas, we have to use them on a bulk quantity. Getting that much big quantity and make them available on the land is difficult and expensive. Other thing that, all the exposed water connection fittings on the garden and lawn may get exploded by frost during the frosty season. We have to protect them on the ground level by properly covered. At end of the day I made a comment that, while Jo was guiding us on the nursery – propagation, she used to write all the propagation details on the board. – Cuttings, seedlings, poting etc. Today nothing in the board. That is Alex Magic.  Different activities…….. different experience….. Wonderful propagation day….. For me, at end of the day there is not much satisfaction. Because there is no visible outcome. But achieved some good knowledge….

Friday, 07th August: Motorised Sprayers

Airblast Sprayer

Airblast Sprayer

Using mistblower

Using mistblower

Today the first session, we have  learned about Sprayers and its calibration.  Spraying has a very important roll in the horticulture industry. Motorised sprayers  are driven by a PTO shaft from the tractor or by their own motor. These sprayers are like Mistblowers, Boom Sprayers, Airblast Sprayers, Air Shear Sprayers, CDA Sprayers, Electrostatic Sprayers and other hybrid types. All of these sprayers are basically for spraying purpose but it has different design based on different uses. Necessary training and health and safety requirements are mandatory before start use these.

 Sprayer

After the first session, Alex and Trevor talked us about pruning tasks. How do execute pruning and  cherry picking works on contract basis. People who do pruning works on contract basis (piece rate system) make money. Speed and quality of the pruning are two important factors. We moved out the campus vineyard to do the pruning. It was chardonnay verity mature grape vines and done cane pruning on this. Alex and Trevor was monitoring and guiding us. Some of us have performed good.  -Cane pruned, stripped off the canes, tied them – between 10-15 with in a half an hour. Great experience. In the afternoon session, we continued the pruning… Alex and Trevor  was running with us. Alex become a painter. (apply the bacseal on  big cuts)  Before the end of the day, Sreekumar and myself went for collecting soil sample from the campus orchard. We made two samples. One is for stone fruit block and other for pip fruit block. Both the blocks were nearly one hector each and collected soils from more than twenty location in one block. Using probe to collect soils is a new experience. Learned  something new. Chris and Sijo have collected soil for the vineyard block. Overall it was a great day. Lots of hands on experiences. Still miles to go….

Term-III, Week-2 (27th-31st July)

 Monday, 27th July: Soils

Soil with sand and gravel

Soil with sand and gravel

Is it good SOIL?????

Is it good SOIL?????

 

 

 

 

 

Another Monday, going to polytechnic. I am very keen to learn more about soil. As a horticulturist, I have to get a deep knowledge about soil structures, textures and types.  I have learned some new points like What is soil texture and structure. Soil texture is important. It is a relative proportion of different size of mineral particles present in the soil. They are sand, silt and clay. Water holding capacity is based on the surface area.  Sand has big surface area. Silt  has less and clay has very less surface area. Soil texture is like sand, sandy loam, silt loam, clay loam and clay.  

Good soil for something!!!

Good soil for something!!!

I love this soil!!!!

I love this Soil!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Soil structure is something different from soil texture. Structure is  the way the particles in the soils are glued or stuck together to form aggregates known as peds. Today’s new word is “Flocculation”. Calcium forms bridges to allow negatively charged clay particles to come together to start the formation of pads. Soil structures are mainly like Crumb, Blocky, Platy and Fine. Overall it was a good time to understand the difference between soil texture and soil structure. In the afternoon session we went to places like Bannockburn Campus, Bannockburn mining  and Low burn to find, recognise and understand different soil structures and textures.

 Tuesday, 28th July: Weeds

Is it really a weed???

Is it really a weed???

Second day of learning about weeds. Today we have learned some new topics  about weeds. Weeds can indicate nutrient status. Weeds like stinging nettles, fathen, docks, sow thistle and black night shade are high soil nitrogen indicators.  Weeds like parsley, sorrel and plantain can indicate soil PH  (Acid soil) and soldier poppy is an alkalinity indicator plant. Today’s interesting is that, how these weeds came to New Zealand. Most of these weeds came from overseas countries like Europe and America. Stowaways, hitchhikers, ship’s ballast, vehicles and machineries and some of them are intensely also introduced. New Zealand has a very strong Bio Security on these days to prevent all these unwanted entries to the land. Also has a very strong regional and local pest Management Strategies to control and monitor the weeds. In the afternoon, we went around Cromwell boat club to find some new weeds. I have collected some weeds like narrow leafed plantain and woolly mullein etc.

 Wednesday, 29th July: Tutorial (Organic certification)

 This Wednesday, we had a tutorial day with Alex. He has done a recap of unit 21046, Obtaining and maintaining Organic certification. It has helped a lots to clear some points, accrue new information and a great assistance to complete the assignment with out much struggle. He helped us to clear all the  questions on the Application form and Property Management Plan. In the after noon session, I was working with my other assignments like Pruning and Grafting.  A day  with bundle of outcomes.

 Thursday, 30th July:  Nursery – Propagation

Hanging Baskets here....

Hanging Baskets are here....

After four Thursdays, today we are back to nursery for propagation. I was really keen to see all the seedlings and cuttings we done on last term. All of these stuffs were in GH-I and GH-4. Most attractive work of the day was doing some Hanging baskets. We have done 36 baskets. These baskets are made my dried sphagnum. Used potting mix to fill this baskets. Used some polymer crystals along the potting mix to hold water and make the media more wet for a long time.  We planted different colors of Pansies in the baskets. Later on we sent them to GH-4 for further growth. These all the baskets will go to Alexandra Blossom Festival. Hope that community will remember us while hanging these baskets there. I have made all the potting mix for filling the baskets. 

After the tea break, we  all engaged with different nursery

Are we expert in trimming????

Are we expert in trimming????

activites. Some of us were working with Hydroponics. Some others were potted some cuttings and seedlings. Sreekumar and myself were fully engaged to do the trimming of leylandii hedge (shelter tree) around the nursery. Some others were also around us to help all the trimming works. A great day with great output. I was very much happy at end of the day. Great output with out any disturbance.

 Friday, 31st July: Pruning

While looking the weather map, there was no sign of rain on Friday morning. But in the previous night was too windy. I was pretty sure that there may be a chance of little shower in the morning. Yes.. it happened on Friday morning. As decided before Friday, we had to do some cleaning and arrangements for the proposed competition for selecting a young viticulturist at Otago region. Our campus was the venue for this competition. We have arranged many things in and around the Bannockburn campus. Cleaning and arranging all the tools and machineries, preparing vineyard  for pruning competition, clean up all the surrounding for welcome the contestants, judges and guests. Most of these activities had finished before the lunch. In the afternoon, we had a practical session to do the mulching. Some of us driven the tractor with mulcher, some other were doing the raking. Last hour we have done some spur pruning on grapes.  Different activities with  verities of skills for adding in our experiences.