REVISED APPROACH TO PROJECT WAS REQUESTED. CHANGE IN SCOPE DOES NOT MEET SARE GUIDELINES AND IS NOT APPROVED. SARE GRANT NOT FUNDED. 10/10/2016
Orchards, due to their perennial nature, do not require tillage after planting, mitigating factors that contribute to erosion, organic matter losses, and nutrient leaching in soil. Greater water infiltration and more extensive root systems naturally maximize access to ground water and precipitation in tree crops, resulting in a lower need for supplemental irrigation compared to annual crops, which can lessen the burden on already overused groundwater and aquifer resources. Research efforts aimed at expanding perennial nut crop systems through breeding and conventional orchard management techniques are already underway. However, the potential of incorporating increased nut crop production with existing agricultural systems such as livestock grazing has not yet been thoroughly addressed.
While the health of soil in silvopasture regimes is well documented, to the author's knowledge, no study exists that addresses the effect on tree health/vigor of incorporating livestock within an orchard setting. If silvopasture proves to be a more efficient system, the synergistic effect of this management technique could reduce costs and use of fuel and herbicide on farms, increase income per acre for farmers with limited resources, and increase the fertility of land used for silvopasture compared with conventional pasture and orchard management systems.
Project objectives from proposal:
- Determine the different impacts of three different orchard floor treatments on organic matter, iron, manganese, and zinc levels in orchard soils.
- Determine if the effect of different orchard floor treatments on soil has corresponding effects on iron, manganese, and zinc levels in leaf samples from newly established orchard trees.
- Determine if orchard floor treatments, along with their corresponding effects on soil characteristics and leaf mineral composition, affects photosynthetic ability and vigor in a newly established orchard tree.