- Fruits: apples
- Vegetables: beans, carrots
- Crop Production: cover crops, municipal wastes, nutrient cycling, organic fertilizers, relay cropping
- Education and Training: demonstration, extension, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research
- Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns
- Pest Management: flame, mulches - living, physical control
- Soil Management: green manures, organic matter, nutrient mineralization, soil quality/health
We evaluated the effects of cover crop, amendment, and tillage strategies on soil quality in organic vegetable and tree fruit production. In the vegetable experiment, amendment had the greatest effect across a range of soil properties. Tillage frequency affected nematode and collembola ecology. Spader tillage reduced subsurface compaction. Amendment, cover crop, and tillage all affected crop yield in at least one year. In the orchard system, wood chips led to better tree performance and fruit production than living mulch or cultivation, but not better soil quality. The economic benefit covered the cost of wood chip application. Tillage degraded soil quality.
Project objectives:div style="margin-left:1em;">
- Compare the effects of selected organic row crop and orchard management systems on soil quality as measured by field and laboratory tests and field observations.
Evaluate the NRCS Soil Conditioning Index as a tool for soil quality assessments.
Develop underseeded cover crop guidelines for humid Northwest environments.
Share findings with organic vegetable and fruit producers and other producers interested in sustainable practices in the Northwest.