Organic orchard management improves soil quality

Photo credit: Dan Graham

A new study in the journal Pedosphere has found that organic management improves soil health.  Researchers compared soil health in three agricultural management systems in citrus orchards in Spain. The management systems included organic farming, no-till farming using herbicides and conventional tillage farming. Soil physical quality was quantified using a variety of indicators including soil bulk density, organic carbon content, and structural stability. Soils from organically farmed orchards performed best for overall soil physical quality with the greatest ability to store water but also to drain excess water. Organic soils also had optimal values for soil bulk density and organic carbon in most cases. On the other hand, both no-till farming with herbicides and chemical farming with tillage “unequivocally led to soil degradation” with loss of organic matter, increased soil compaction and reduced structural stability.