J.M. Tisdall
Many trials with temperate fruits compared various systems of soil management and/or fertilizers on the physical and chemical properties of soil, and growth and yield of crops. Yields due to treatments varied with region, year and cultivar. Frequent tillage mineralized organic C, N and S, and worsened the physical properties of many surface soils. The top 10 cm of soil was usually devoid of roots. Bare surface decreased levels of organic C and worsened the physical properties compared with covered soil. Permanent sod or a mulch improved the physical and biological properties of soil. However a sod competed with the crop for water and nutrients, with few crop roots in the top 10 cm of soil. Under a mulch roots grew up to the surface and into the mulch.

Recent research with traditionally pruned and spaced fruit crops aimed at maintaining optimum levels of physical properties of soil for unrestricted root growth. The new system produced large trees, with yields at least three times those of trees managed traditionally. Research also showed recently that close-planted trees, with nutrients applied to the non-tilled, mulched tree-line, and only when needed, produced 0.4 t of peaches per kg of N applied from 0 to 5 years. This compared with traditionally managed trees (tilled, flood-irrigated) which produced 0.04 t per kg of N applied from 0 to 5 years.

Tisdall, J.M. (1989). SOIL MANAGEMENT. Acta Hortic. 240, 161-168
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.1989.240.29

Acta Horticulturae