Topic: Cultivation of blueberries in mineral soils through biomicorious nutrition
Students: Diana Sumbulyan, ANAU Faculty of Agronomy, Agronomy, selection and genetics specialty; Artyom Gasparyan, ANAU, Faculty of Agronomy, Greenhouse agro-technology specialty
The AGRI CAMP Program grantees Diana Sumbulyan and Artyom Gasparyan suggest growing blueberries with biomicorious nutrition in a high mountainous area (Bavra Village, Shirak region), as well as adapting it for growing in mineral soils. The biomicorification method will reduce costs and provide a suitable soil for growing blueberries, which will reduce the market value of the crop.
Why did you decide to choose this research topic?
Diana. – I started researching blueberries in 2020. I have applied for grants many times as a business idea and I have had some success. But at that time I thought of growing blueberries in the traditional way. I had even prepared a report to present at the conference organized by the Student Scientific Society in 2021. My colleague Artyom, who was also attending the conference, suggested to start studying the cultivation in a new way. I expressed my willingness and we started researching together. We received professional advice from our scientific supervisor Docent Gayane Gabrielyan, which was very helpful.
- When it came to practical work, it turned out that the financial means were not enough. At Artyom’s suggestion, we applied to the AGRI CAMP Program, received a student research grant and began to implement our idea.
Artyom ․ – I met Diana at the conference. I did not know much about blueberries at that time. When Diana spoke about the cultivation of blueberries in Armenia during the conference it caught my attention. Later on, I learned how useful blueberries are. The fact that blueberries grow in acidic soils has intensified my interest. I started looking for alternatives that would allow blueberries to be grown not only in acidic but also in basic soils, thus boosting blueberry cultivation in the highlands. I offered Diana to work together in that direction.
- I am very interested in topics related to agriculture. One day I decided to read information about interesting processes in nature, and I was surprised to learn that there is a species of fungus that grows in symbiosis with various plants, accelerating their growth. An idea came to my mind that this mushroom could be used in the cultivation of blueberries, which could solve the above-mentioned problem. A month later I saw the AGRI CAMP Program grant announcement and offered Diana to apply together.
How did your initial assumptions change during the process of research?
Diana. – At first the idea seemed unbelievable and difficult to implement. But today it is already becoming a reality. We will soon offer a new technology for efficient agricultural cultivation.
Artyom ․ – Before starting the research I was a little bit tense, as this was my first scientific experience. However, the process at this moment is quite encouraging. I hope that the other stages of research will be successful as well and we will propose a new method of effective cultivation of blueberries.
What new experiences have you obtained through participation in the AGRI CAMP Program?
Diana. – The research and practical work done during the research are a new experience for me, which, I believe, will serve in the future for the development of agriculture and the discovery of new technologies for growing other crops in innovative ways.
Artyom ․ – I learned the rules of applying for grant programs, as this was my first experience, and I have received answers to many of my questions, as a result of our research.
How does the scientific environment contribute to the research process?
Diana. – Having all the advantages of the scientific environment we also consulted with farmers and individuals engaged in blueberry cultivation.
Artyom ․ – The scientific environment has a favorable effect on any research, of course. However, during the research we also studied the international and local experiences for further development of our idea․
How will the successful completion of the research affect your future professional career?
Diana. – I am involved in some other research works as well, so I follow the trends of innovative technologies and solutions. I hope that the results of my researches and the scientific papers will also be useful for future generations.
Artyom ․ – It is quite inspiring to feel like a young scientist. Successful completion of the research will be a good motivation to do more and more interesting researches in my favorite field. I will consider it my duty to serve my homeland and humanity through my research activities.
As Chekhov said, “Our job is to learn and learn, to strive to accumulate as much knowledge as possible, because serious social trends are where knowledge is and the happiness of future humanity is only in knowledge.”
Supervisor: Gayane Gabrielyan, PhD, Docent, ANAU
Activities outlined under this objective of the USAID-funded AGRI CAMP Program tend to empower ANAU students’ engagement in Research and Development.