Meet Lucas Anrecio, Graduate Assistant

Lucas Anrecio is our Graduate Assistant at the Field & Fork Farm.  Lucas did his undergraduate work at UF, graduating in 2022 with two degrees: Agricultural Education and Sustainability Studies, while also interning at the farm. He is now pursuing a master’s degree and is using the research fields near the bat houses for the next two years to learn how anaerobic soil disinfestation (ASD) can help organic farms suppress soilborne pathogens without using chemical fumigants.   

Last summer Lucas planted a variety of cover crops, building on their proven benefit of protecting the soil from erosion, loss of nutrients, and weed overgrowth between growing seasons.  Prior to being tilled in, the crops were a patchwork quilt of sunn hemp, sorghum sudangrass, and mustard. These crops were incorporated to add carbon to the soil and serve as a food source for microbes. Usually cover crops are incorporated back into the soil through a process of aerobic decomposition, similar to what happens in a compost pile. But, in this case, Lucas created anaerobic conditions by flooding the planting beds with water and covering them with a gas impermeable tarp, creating conditions suppressive to pathogens. Following this treatment, broccoli will be grown using organic practices and evaluated for weight and marketability based on the previous soil treatments: cover crop species, inclusion of molasses as a carbon source (a proven ASD standard), and irrigation. After harvesting the broccoli, melons will be planted into the existing beds to determine the lasting effects of ASD treatment.    

Lucas hopes his research will contribute to the adoption of ASD as a sustainable soil management practice for vegetable growers in Florida. Using cover crops as a carbon source would also save transportation costs for the purchased molasses or agricultural byproducts often used in ASD.  The cost savings could be transferred to the consumer, who would benefit from quality produce grown in healthy soil on sustainably and economically managed farms. 

Published: December 4th, 2023

Category: Uncategorized

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