Two key challenges facing the horticultural sector are micro-contamination of baby leaf salads and field herbs and poor stand establishment of light seeded crops due to capping of the soil surface. Capping can impede seedling emergence, delay stand establishment and reduce plant populations impacting the quantity and quality of the final yield.
Contamination of baby leafy salads and field grown herbs with soil and/or pathogenic micro-organisms can result in a significant cost to the industry due to analysis costs, product wastage, delayed marketing (reduced shelf-life), supply restrictions, additional hygiene requirements and customer concerns.
The project will provide an oppurtunity for the student to build technicall and practical experience, as well as academic rigure, through an investigation of:
- Optimum application rates and PAM formulations to prevent capping and mitigate soil splash on a range of crust susceptible soils,
- seedling emergence and splash contamination trials,
- Design and development of a PAM sprayer that can be readily retro-fitted to the back of a range of seed drills, d) Field trial assessment of optimal PAM formulations and application rates.