In the last decade, Florida citrus has been devastated by the Asian citrus psyllid. Since 2005, this non-native insect has spread a bacterial disease (citrus greening) throughout the citrus industry in all Florida and now to Alabama, Texas, and California. The economic loss has been estimated by the University of Florida to be well over 1 billion dollars and is compounded by the loss of 30 thousand jobs! Growers have spent millions of dollars battling this pest. So obviously we have a psyllid problem, right?
Well, if I could take you back to your eighth-grade science class, I would teach you that it only takes sunlight, soil, air, and water to grow a healthy crop. In Florida, we are blessed with plenty of sunshine, fresh water, and fresh air. The one thing we have forgotten about in the last 65 years is the soil.
Soil health, according to Dr. William A. Albrecht, is about balancing the chemical, mineral, biological, and physical properties of soil. Our soil’s biology has been decimated almost to the point of extinction. We have essentially killed our own soils!
Florida soils have not been blessed with a high percentage of organic matter to hold the nutrients we apply. Most importantly, organic matter (humus) is the home for all soil biology. Without this home, it is impossible to achieve biological balance, mineral balance, and citrus health. Insects in nature always attack the weakest or most unbalanced link.
Biodiversity, balance, and respect will make the difference in the health of Florida citrus. We would like to invite all of you to attend the Guardian Soil Solutions Field Day at our research grove to demonstrates the difference this relationship can make in a truly remarkable way. This is the future of Florida citrus.
We will have several dates available for you to tour our grove, ask questions and see the dramatic turn around for yourself. Be sure to come by our booth at the Florida Citrus Expo in Ft Myers and schedule your visit.
This column is sponsored by Guardian Soil Solutions.
BIO: Josh Young is a proud former U.S. Marine and native of Plant City, Florida. His passion for helping growers led him to co-found Guardian Soil Solutions, a full-service agribusiness that focuses on soil health. Josh’s love of agriculture stems from his earliest days on his granddaddy’s farm.