The Effects of Different Organic Apple Production Systems on Seasonal Variation of Soil Properties and Foliar Nutrient Concentration

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2005: $10,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2008
Region: Southern
State: Arkansas
Major Professor:
Dr. Curt Rom
University of Arkansas

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: other, grass (misc. perennial), hay
  • Fruits: apples


  • Animal Production: feed/forage
  • Crop Production: cover crops, nutrient cycling, organic fertilizers, tissue analysis
  • Pest Management: allelopathy, biological control, cultural control, integrated pest management, mulches - living, mulching - vegetative, weed ecology
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture
  • Soil Management: green manures, nutrient mineralization, soil chemistry, organic matter, soil quality/health

    Proposal abstract:

    As a result of a SARE project (LS04-167), “The Southern Region Organic Fruit Production Initiative: Identifying Barriers, Needed Research, Markets, and Opportunities”, Arkansas fruit grower focus-groups and related clientele identified crop fertility management and the interactions with ground cover management as significant barriers to production requiring research. Seasonal variations in nutrient concentrations of soil and leaves are indicators of nutrient availability, limitations, and tree performance. However, those data were developed in conventional orchards using herbicided weed-free strips and soluble synthetic fertilizers and may not be the same as in organic orchards with increased soil biological activity and slow release nutrient sources. There are significant questions about nutrient availability and uptake in the permaculture of organic fruit production systems. The limited study of organic orchard nutrition has been done in the arid Pacific Northwest or the colder Northeast region with little or no research in the lower-Midwest or Southern Regions. To address this issue, the Eco-Agriculture research group at the University of Arkansas initiated the SARE project (LS05-176), “Best management practices for organic orchard nutrition”. The project proposed herein is a detailed study to contribute to that project and leverages resources for plot establishment and management. The objective of this project is to evaluate seasonal nutrient patterns in soils and leaves in organic apple production systems. The interpretation of nutrient trends during the season will be the first step in developing a reference for nutrition and fertility recommendations in organic apple farming systems in the southern region of the U.S.A.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    To evaluate seasonal available nutrient content and availability in soil and the nutrient concentration in foliage of apples in an organic orchard with varied ground cover management systems and varied nutrition sources.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.