We awarded two grants this year to the Underwood Conservation District to advance their soil health studies in orchards, vineyards and pastures. Now that their studies are well underway, they’ve shared their preliminary data.
The goal of their Orchard Project was to determine the benefits of compost and compost + mulch applications on orchard rows. Initial findings indicate a significant increase in soil organic matter after compost applications — but no additional benefit from mulch applications. The Vineyard Project sought to replicate these studies in vineyards. So far, there have been no significant improvements in vineyard rows treated with compost.
The intention of Underwood’s Pasture Project was to demonstrate the effectiveness of dryland pasture renovation using minimum tillage techniques. It is as yet too early to draw conclusions about the benefits of the pasture’s new cover crop mix, as opposed to previous years of heavy tillage.
The Underwood Conservation District has prepared a video to highlight their findings; their full report can also be read here. Those who attend the WACD’s annual meeting this November will see a presentation of this and all the WA State Soil Health Committee’s grant project findings.