In partnership with NOFA/Mass, the Bionutrient Food Association is directing a crop quality field research trial this year. Collaborating with 12 farmers across 7 states, we are growing out carrots and tomatoes with different fertility programs to document the effect of environmental factors on plant yield, pest and disease resistance, vigor, brix and bionutrient levels. Each farmer has identified a plot and taken a soil sample that we have split and sent to four different labs. Our objective is to first identify the different results received from different labs on the same soil sample. Then, each of the locations that we sent to will submit recommendations for fertility programs. We are sending samples to Advancing Eco Ag in Ohio, Crop Services International in Michigan, International Ag labs in Minnesota, and the local land grant for each of the farmers participating. When we receive the recommendations from each sample report we will send the appropriate fertility materials to the farmers to apply on the test plots. We are asking the farmers to direct seed carrots and tomatoes in their plots the first week of June.
Our objective is to run sophisticated nutrient assays on the crops produced in the trials to determine the levels of variation of nutrition that can be achieved in one season on the same soil with the same seed and differing fertility programs. BFA Director, Dan Kittredge, met with Professor Rui Hai Liu at Cornell, who has a lab that tests phytonutrient levels in crops. We are awaiting final details, but expect that this level of testing, by far the most significant cost in our research program, will cost something on the order of $10,000. We need to raise this money, and look to our membership and allies for support. We will correlate the results coming from Dr Liu’s lab with hand held near-infrared spectroscopy devices so that we will have the data necessary to work on our long term project, the consumer-friendly Bionutrient Meter.