Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Plants, Soils, and Climate

Committee Chair(s)

Jennifer Reeve


Jennifer Reeve


Diane Alston


Grant Cardon


Soil health is often overlooked as a long-term management strategy as growers face an increasing number of short-term management challenges in the Intermountain West. The costs of inputs are rising and water resources are becoming more limited. Soil with poor health typically requires more amendments and fertlizers to meet crop needs. Soil health tests can help reveal management practices that reduce soil health, as well as those that improve soil health. Practices known to improve soil health are reduced to no tillage, cover crop use- especially legumes, and addition of mulch and other organic materials. Soil health testing is not routine in most soil testing facilities, therefore is often cost prohibitive, unavailable or confusing to interpret. The purpose of this study was to help growers improve and monitor soil health. Chapter 1 provides an overview of soil health. Chapters 2 and 3 discuss the effectiveness of simple soil health tests that can be performed by growers on-site. The best simple soil testing methods were found to be modified slake tests, the Solvita® respiration test kit, and soil organism biodiversity counts. Simple nutrient test kits were found to be much less accurate in identifying pH or soil nutrient availability when compared to soil testing facility results. Chapters 4 and 5 investigate organic nutrient management practices for peach orchards in the Utah, illustrating examples from: Captiol Reef National Park, Torrey, in southcentral Utah; and Utah State University Horticultural Research Farm, Kaysville, in northern Utah.



Included in

Soil Science Commons