- Demo Day
Speaker | Clemson University
Ayodeji is an ingenious Ph.D. student in the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences at Clemson University. He is a technology-driven-result-oriented individual and a scholar par excellence. He is a passionate soil science enthusiast whoseinterest is improving soil health and ecosystem conservation through rigorous enhancement of soil organic matter and strategy for nutrient management for crop productivity and agricultural sustainability.
Session Code: 1C
Track: CREF Research
Session Name: Compost Impact on Crops and Soil
Session Time: Wednesday, February 7, 8:15 – 9:45 AM
Presentation Title: Impact of Soil Amended with Compost on Orchard Nutritional Dynamics and Horticultural Performance
Presentation Description: High-input fruit production systems in the southeastern U.S. has led to depleted soils with low soil organic matter (SOM) and reduced microbial activity and capacity to recycle nutrients. The demand for nutrients in fruit crops usually exceeds the naturally available levels in the soil; as a response, growers often apply excessive rates of synthetic fertilizers, which lead to nutrient losses to ground and surface water and reduced fruit quality. Furthermore, soils in fruit orchards have been identified as being at greater risk for carbon loss, and low SOM reduces nutrient availability, water holding capacity, tilth, and root growth. Compost, a potential substitute for synthetic fertilizer in fruit orchards, can also improve soil health and increase the sustainability of orchard systems. This study aims to assess the impact of compost applications on soil nutritional status and macronutrient dynamics, yield, and fruit quality (specifically on the incidence of diseases and physiological disorders) in replanted and virgin peach orchards. Three treatments consisting of pre-plant incorporation of food waste compost at 10 tons/acre (1x), 20 tons/acre (2x) combined with growers’ standard (GS) rate of mineral fertilizer, and control (GS only) were applied in both locations (replanted and virgin orchard) at planting. For subsequent years, the compost was topically applied at a 50% rate with 20% and 0% of mineral fertilizer for the 1x and 2x treatments, respectively, while the control treatment received 100% of the GS rate. In the replanted orchard, the 2x treatment resulted in improving soil health indicators such as SOM, cation exchange capacity, phosphorus, soil infiltration, and soil moisture, but not in the virgin orchard compared to the control treatment. In the fourth and fifth years, the 2x exhibited increased yield, lower disease pressure, and larger tree trunks compared to the 1x and control treatments.