Soils & Nutrition

Soil is a foundation of organic farming.  Interest in soil quality / health in orchard systems is currently high, and more research is available and underway to understand this part of the orchard ecosystem.  In particular, more knowledge is needed about the relationship between soil organisms and tree roots, as well as both the balance and sufficiency of soil nutrients. New genomic techniques are allowing for a look at soil microbiology that was previously impossible and are leading to important new knowledge that will inform field management.

Soil Resources


Horticultural Meeting Sessions

Oregon State University Soils and Orchards Workshop, March 2017

Worms at Work: How Managing Orchard Organic Matter Improves Soil Biology and Tree Health.  Tom Forge, Agriculture and Agrifood Canada, Summerland, BC

Cultivating Organic Matter for Orchard Health. David Granatstein, WSU Wenatchee.

Soil Health: Its Role in Today’s Orchard Systems. A session at the 2013 Wash. St. Hort. Assoc. annual meeting, Wenatchee, WA, Dec. 4, 2013.  The session asked three questions, and had two speakers address each question:

  1. Does Organic Matter Matter?  (G. Neilsen, G. Bird)
  2.  How Do We Measure Soil Health?  (G. Johnson, T. Forge)
  3. How does management influence soil health and tree performance?  (I. Merwin, M. Omeg).

Proceedings manuscripts (and several Powerpoint presentations) are available for some speakers below.

Soil Health in Orchards.  A session at the Intl. Fruit Tree Assoc. winter conference, Pasco, WA, March 2, 2011.  The session featured a series of speakers addressing the various aspects of soil health and how they relate to tree growth and fruit quality.  Articles based on these presentations are published in Compact Fruit Tree magazine.

Orchard Soil Seminars 

WSU Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center is organizing a series of seminars on topics related to soils and orchards.  These are being captured electronically and made available on line at the WSU Tree Fruit YouTube page.


Roots: The Foundation of Your Orchard’s Success. A session at the 2014 Wash. St. Hort. Assoc. annual meeting, Kennewick, WA, Dec. 3, 2014. Presentations were captured electronically and can be viewed on-line.


  • Organic Fertilizer Calculator. An excel based tool to help you determine how much nutrient value various organic amendments have, how quickly they release N, and how much they cost. Oregon State University – Small Farms; University of Idaho
  • Organic fertilizer panel, Supplying N & other key nutrients to organic orchards.