Resource Conservation District
The proposed project has a variety of environmental, agronomic and socio-political impacts
The goal of this project is to determine whether different mulch and compost application rates lead to differences in soil organic matter (SOM) content, greenhouse gas (GHG) fluxes, soil moisture retention, plant growth metrics, and crop yields in a newly planted raised-bed lemon orchard. While beds are commonly used to reduce root-rot diseases by increasing soil drainage and aeration, the impacts from mulching and composting these bedded systems are unstudied.
The application of mulch and compost on a newly planted citrus orchard will improve conditions for tree establishment, improve soil biology, structure and moisture retention, and provide for long-term carbon sequestration. Compost and mulch enhance the aforementioned ecosystem services by improving chemical, biological and physical conditions for tree establishment through the uptake of carbon.
Both compost and mulch increase soil organic matter, which:
a. Increases surface residue, which acts as a barrier to wind and water erosion
b. Increases water infiltration and decreases water runoff
c. Holds 10 to 1,000 times more water and nutrients
d. Supports soil biodiversity and increases density and activity of beneficial soil organisms
e. Improves storage of soil nitrogen and increases N availability to citrus trees