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Maria Gannett, Marvin P. Pritts, and Johannes Lehmann

aggregation of such tests can be used to assess soil health [sometimes referred to as soil quality in the literature, especially as the concept was first developing ( Doran and Parkin, 1994 ; Harris et al., 1996 )]. Yield is an important variable that

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Jeffrey R. Pieper, Rebecca Nelson Brown, and José A. Amador

magnifies the beneficial effects of tillage reduction ( Havlin et al., 1990 ). In conversations with growers in southern New England we have learned that they are interested in reducing tillage and improving soil health, but are unsure how tillage reduction

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Monica Ozores-Hampton

The organic vegetable industry is familiar with production practices aimed to improve the health and function of the soil. Soil health is defined as the continued capacity of the soil to function as a vital living ecosystem that sustains plants

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Kuan-Ju Chen, Suzette P. Galinato, Thomas L. Marsh, Peter R. Tozer, and Hayley H. Chouinard

et al., 2011 ; Yue and Tong, 2009 ; Zhang et al., 2010 ). We selected a set of attributes that explain, in part, the willingness to adopt BDM products, including a premium for crops grown with BDMs, soil health, percentage of plastic residue left in

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Jennifer Moore-Kucera, Anita Nina Azarenko, Lisa Brutcher, Annie Chozinski, David D. Myrold, and Russell Ingham

via optimal fertility management is a common goal among conventional and organic growers. In addition, improving soil health is a requirement for organic growers [§205.203a ( National Organic Program, 2002 )]. Soil health has been defined as the

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M. Lenny Wells

availability, interactions, and predictions of potential problems. Soil analysis also reveals information relative to soil health. Soil organic matter levels in pecan orchards have received little attention. Organic matter can enhance soil productivity in many

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Rachel E. Rudolph, Lisa W. DeVetter, Chris Benedict, and Inga A. Zasada

-quality crops. Many of those practices are common in modern agriculture, but they can be detrimental to soil quality. Soil quality, or soil health, has been defined as the “continued capacity of the soil to function” as a living ecosystem that sustains plants

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Tom Forge, Gerry Neilsen, Denise Neilsen, Eugene Hogue, and Dana Faubion

15 22 Forge, T.A. Kempler, C. 2009 Organic mulches influence population densities of root-lesion nematodes, soil health indicators, and root growth of red raspberry Can. J. Plant Pathol. 31 241 249 Forge, T.A. Kimpinski, J. 2007 Nematodes, p. 415

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Amaya Atucha, Ian A. Merwin, and Michael G. Brown

Groundcover management systems (GMSs) are essential for fruit production, but very few long-term studies have evaluated orchard GMS sustainability. We evaluated four GMSs—pre-emergence soil-active herbicides (PreHerb), post-emergence herbicide (PostHerb), a turfgrass cover crop (Sod), and hardwood bark mulch (Mulch)—in an apple (Malus domestica Borkh.) orchard over 16 years of continuous observation. There were no consistent long-term trends in fruit yields among GMSs, although during the first 5 years, yields were lower in trees on Sod. Tree growth was greater in PostHerb and Mulch than in Sod during the first 5 years, and during the next decade, trees in Mulch plots were consistently larger than in other GMSs. Total soil nitrogen (N) and carbon (C) content, C-to-N ratios, and essential plant nutrients were much greater in the Mulch soil after 16 years of treatments. Long-term responses of trees to groundcover vegetation indicated that apple trees respond adaptively to compensate for weed and grass competition. Year-round elimination of surface vegetation with residual soil active herbicides may be unnecessary or even detrimental for orchard productivity and soil fertility in established orchards. Post-emergence herbicides that reduce weed competition primarily during the summer months may offer an optimal combination of weed suppression and soil conservation.

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Maren J. Mochizuki, Anusuya Rangarajan, Robin R. Bellinder, Harold M. van Es, and Thomas Björkman

If benefits of conservation tillage can be quantified even in the transition year from conventional tillage, growers will more likely integrate practices that maintain or enhance soil quality and productivity. The management of surface residue is an important component of conservation tillage, especially in cool, rainy climates where vegetable growth and yield reductions have been observed when heavy residue is present. Cereal rye (Secale cereale L.), grown until flowering, was killed with glyphosate and was then cut and removed (stubble treatment) or rolled or chopped to form a surface mulch (mulched treatment) before transplanting cabbage. Rolled mulch increased soil wet aggregate stability by 4% and reduced soil penetrometer resistance by up to 0.5 MPa compared with rye stubble treatments in 2003. In 2004, frequent rains saturated soils and may have accelerated the decomposition of chopped mulch, minimizing treatment effects. Rolled mulch reduced soil temperatures by up to 2 °C in 2003, but June transplanting of cabbage probably minimized the impact of soil temperature. Mulched treatments did not delay cabbage maturity or affect head quality characteristics such as color or uniformity. Although rolled mulch reduced cabbage growth by as much as 30% and yield by 21% in 2003, chopped mulch did not affect growth or yield in 2004. Yield reduction may be overcome by killing the rye relatively early in the spring or retaining only the surface stubble; these strategies may maintain or measurably improve soil quality even in the transition year to conservation tillage.