By Brad Turner
From a family with deep Florida roots, I have over 40 years of experience in commercial citrus production. I learned the industry from the ground up by working in the family groves while studying citrus production at Florida Southern College. I have owned a citrus nursery, my own groves and a citrus caretaking business. I have also worked in production for Lykes Citrus Management Division, and most recently worked as ranch manager and production manager for Welcome Ranch and Groves.
Due to the challenges of the conventional citrus production model, I was forced to walk away from growing citrus commercially. In February of 2017, I began studying soil biology, chemistry and physics and how they affect plant nutrition and citrus tree health. In December of that year, I purchased 5 acres of land in Lithia and planted multiple varieties of citrus.
Because of my prior experiences and the unending challenges across the citrus industry with disease and insects, I chose to implement regenerative concepts in my grove to prove to myself there was more than one approach to dealing with the pest management problems that plague the industry and grower profitability. This began my trials, experimentation and research to better understand how regenerative principles and processes could be implemented into commercial citrus production, and how those processes would benefit soil health, tree health and grower profitability.
PRACTICES YIELDING POSITIVE RESULTS
In pest management, it is necessary to focus on beneficial insects and microbes, as well as optimal tree nutrition. At my research farm, I have found that beneficial insects and microbes (both above and below ground) are attracted and housed by the continual propagation of diverse cover crops.
I have developed a cover cropping rotation strategy keeping at least half of my grove in mature and beneficial living green plants all year long. This ensures beneficial insects are in the grove continually.
I apply biostimulants and inoculums on a regular basis to both the soil and foliage to feed and diversify the natural occurring biology and also to help keep pathogens in check. Many lower order of problem pests (aphids, thrips, whiteflies, mealybugs, all forms of scale, rust mites, spider mites and psyllids) are at extremely low populations or non-existent.
University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) nematologist Johan Desaeger sampled my soils, as well as the roots of trees and various cover crops last spring. He …..
Brad Turner is a citrus grower and operator of Sand to Soil Services in Lithia, Florida.
Learn more about Pest Management: A New Approach to an Age-Old Challenge on the Citrus Industry website.