Posts Tagged 'soil for horticulture'

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.


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….