Phytosphere Research specializes in practical or "mission-oriented" research projects. Our goal is to provide sound information that will allow our clients to make informed resource management decisions. Phytosphere Research has completed a variety of research projects related to urban forestry and the ecology of oak woodlands and other California plant communities. In addition, the research backgrounds of the two principals include experience with many diverse projects, including biological control of aquatic weeds, studies of air pollutant effects on plants, agricultural pesticide evaluation, development of disease-resistant vegetable varieties, and assessment of factors affecting root diseases.
In addition to research, Phytosphere Research provides natural resource and horticultural consulting services. This consulting experience complements our research activities by keeping us involved with practical, day-to-day issues in resource management, urban forestry, and horticulture.
Plant health problems can be successful managed only by addressing causes rather than symptoms. Attempts to solve a landscape problem without a good understanding of the cause are usually ineffective and wasteful. Pest control tactics that involve the use of broad-spectrum pesticides without a clear understanding of the problem are environmentally and economically unjustifiable.
Plant problem diagnosis involves both art and science. An experienced diagnostician can identify many plant pests and diseases on sight. However, plant health problems in landscapes are frequently caused by the combined actions of several interacting agents or conditions. In such cases, more detailed field observations and other investigations may be needed to arrive at an accurate diagnosis. Collecting and testing plant and/or soil samples is often a part of this process. Sample tests are only one aspect of the diagnostic process and are sometimes unnecessary. Without field observations and information on site history, pathogen isolations and other lab tests may not provide useful information. Organisms found on or in diseased or damaged plant parts may or may not play a major role in a given plant health problem.
Since 1987, Phytosphere Research has provided expert diagnostic services to landscape owners and managers and other landscape professionals. Though our investigations, we sort out the factors that contribute to poor plant performance and provide practical recommendations that address the underlying causes. As needed, we collect and process plant, insect, fungal, and soil samples that will help us diagnose a problem. To help manage landscapes for long-term sustainability, we stress cultural and biological techniques in our recommendations. Please contact us for an estimate if you are interested in our field diagnostic services.