This project will focus on building a polyculture system within an orchard to increase orchard health, reduce outside inputs of nutrients and pest control products while simultaneously producing additional revenue streams. Hogs and chickens will be rotated through an apple orchard to increase soil fertility, reduce pest and disease pressure and reduce mowing needs. The animals will also provide a way for orchard waste products such as cider pulp and windfall apples to become fertilizer as well as saleable meat. This will be a two year study in order to measure differences in soil fertility, pest pressure levels, disease levels and profitability of the orchard-raised meat production. This project is meant to explore a scalable and viable alternative to chemically dependent monoculture orchards.
Project objectives from proposal:
Primary Objectives that can be easily controlled and measured
1.) Increase soil fertility – includes improved CEC, fertility levels, organic matter content 2.) Reduce mowing and eliminate weed competition
3.) Provide an additional, viable revenue stream by using resources primarily available onsite using minimal outside inputs.
Secondary Objectives that can be measured but cannot be completely controlled (meaning that there could be other influences on the measurements)
1.) Reduce apple scab
2.) Reduce pest pressure – primarily apple maggot fly, codling moth, plum curculio