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 quality problems such as erosion, depleted soil organic matter, salinity, depleted or excessive nutrient reserves and reduced water holding capacity are of increasing concern to farmers in the Intermountain West. Marginal soils require higher rates of fertilizers and other amendments to meet crop needs. As input costs rise and water resources are increasingly limited, simple and effective methods for evaluating and improving soil quality and fertility are of growing importance. Practices known to improve soil quality include reduced to no tillage, cover crop use- especially legumes, and addition of mulch and other carbon rich amendments. Comprehensive soil quality testing is often not routine, cost prohibitive, unavailable or confusing to interpret. The purpose of this study was to develop tools to help growers improve and monitor soil quality. Chapter 1 provides a general overview of the project. Chapters 2 and 3 discuss the effectiveness of simple soil tests that can be performed by growers on-site. The most effective simple soil testing methods were found to be modified slake tests, the Solvita® respiration test kit, and soil organism biodiversity counts (R = 0.88, R = 0.88, R = 0.68 respectively). Simple nutrient test kits, correlated somewhat with laboratory results (the highest correlation was R = 0.80), however no simple test kit was accurate across all tests provided. 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.



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Soil Science Commons