- Author: Lynn M. Sosnoskie
While soil health is currently a big buzzword in CA agriculture, UC Davis researchers want to dig into how managing CA soils to build soil health indicators impacts a grower's crop management decisions, productivity, and economic bottom line.
To further investigate these issues, UC Davis soil scientists are looking for processing tomato growers interested in participating in a soil health survey in summer 2019. The research will provide insight into the relationship between soil health indicators (which include soil chemical, biological, and structural/physical factors) and crop management, including how certain aspects of soil health impact fertility management and tomato yields.
To do this, researchers will ask participating growers to choose 2-3 fields for researchers to survey, including what they view as their "best" and "worst" fields, in either subsurface drip or furrow irrigation. Growers will also be asked to provide information on the history of the fields sampled, including crop rotation, duration in drip irrigation (if applicable), a general description of inputs management, as well as their own perspectives on soil management. Soil collected from growers' fields will be analyzed for soil texture, N, P, K, Ca, Mg, Na, pH, organic matter, cation exchange capacity, electrical conductivity, and aggregate stability. Soil microbiological factors will also be measured, including bacterial and fungal biomass, mycorrhizal biomass, and microbial carbon and nitrogen pools.
Each participant will receive a detailed report on test results of their fields and overall findings from the study, though all results from individual fields and farms will be anonymized with all identifying information removed when being shared with anyone other than the grower.
UC Davis researchers hope that this study will contribute to knowledge of how soil health status impacts management decisions for annual vegetable growers on the ground, including how soil health can contribute to agroecosystem productivity, prosperity, and sustainability for California farms.
Please contact Nicole Tautges, UCD crop scientist, for more information or to request sampling on your farm.
Cropping Systems Research Manager
Russell Ranch Sustainable Agriculture Facility
University of California, Davis, CA 95616