We are exploring how different farm management methods affect yields, fruit quality, and disease pressure/resistance.

Plant Health and Productivity in Context

  • Healthy plants help maintain sustainable and profitable crop production
  • Plants that are healthy are more resilient to changes in climate (can be more drought tolerant) and pest pressure/disease 
  • High nutrient content in healthy plants provides a more quality crop product for human and animal consumption 

How we look at plant health and productivity 

We are investigating ways to Improve plant health and crop productivity at Russell Ranch. Key research questions we are exploring include:

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Featured Research Projects 

  • Tomato yield trends over time 
  • Yield 1

     

    Yield 2
  • Tomato soluble solid (%) trends over time 
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  • Disease pressure and resistance 
  • One study featured in our 2018 Research Progress Report (A. Gaudin, C. Casteel, R. Vannette, R. Blutnell, J. Schmidt, T. Bowles, and F. Bender, UC Davis and UC Berkeley) found that organic fields had lower pest populations compared to conventional sites and that differences were due partially to increased plant resistance. Beet leafhoppers consistently prefer to settle on conventionally grown tomato plants rather than organically grown plants at Russell Ranch.

    pest Image
    Figure 1: Organic management practices reduced insect populations and preference in processing tomatoes. (A) The number of insects collected in sweepnets on organic and conventional plots of tomato at Russell Ranch (Farm RR) in 2016. (B) The number of insects collected in sweepnets on organic and conventional plots at Farm RR and three commercial processing tomato farms (Farm F, M, and S) in 2017. (C) Combined arthropod diversity across all sites in 2017. D) Leafhopper settling preference for leaves collected from Farm RR and three commercial processing tomato farms (Farm F, M, and S) in 2017. (mean ± SE; N= 6 for A and B, C, N= 24 for C and N=18 for D). Stars represent significant differences; *P<0.1, **P<0.05).