A recent study published in Frontiers in Plant Science states that grass growth near blueberries corrects iron deficiencies. Grass growth also leads to higher yield and better quality in blueberries. Currently, commercial production of blueberries involves the widespread use of chemical fertilizers.
Iron plays an important role in the function of plant molecules. Iron is essential for processes such as chlorophyll formation and subsequent photosynthesis. According to the researchers, natural adaptation in grasses to poor soils helps them deliver iron chealators through the roots of the blueberry plants. Grass had earlier shown promising results with growth of grapes, citrus, and olives.
Iron deficiency is dangerous for commercial production of blueberries. It can result in yellowing leaves and reductions in yield and quality over time. However, current industrial harvestation methods had very few alternatives to increase yields.
Earlier, farmers either used to acidify soils or add synthetic iron chelators. According to researchers, both these methods were less than ideal for blueberry production. Soil acidification is unsustainable. It also results in toxic environment for plants as well as human beings. On the other hand, synthetic iron chlators were extremely costly. Hence, large and small farmers are expected to rejoice with this new insight.
The Study Removes Natural Barriers in Blueberry Growth
All forms of soils can be rich in iron content. However, most of it is does not dissolve in water. Hence, most plants get iron by initiating chemical reactions. Incidentally, the blueberry plants lack this ability.
Their natural growth in wet and acid conditions have resulted in such an adaptation. This is primarily why blueberries are difficult to grow in alkaline and dry cropland.
The study was undertaken by an assistant professor of Agriculture Sciences at the University of Chile, Dr José Covarrubias. According to Mr. Covarrubias, intercropping blueberry crops have also resulted in improvements in antioxidant content and other fruit qualities in blueberries.
His research could pave way for a more grass root-driven approach to blueberry farming, for a change – literally.