Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources
Washington State University, Wenatchee, WA

 

Summaries of Data from 1997 On-farm Compost Trials:

Trials on orchard replant with compost and old orchard soil
Trials on orchard plantings - New Plantings and Replant with new soil
Trials on poor growing trees ( 5-8 yr old ) - Surface application of composts

Summary of 1997 On-Farm-Compost Trials

Thirteen orchard sites were monitored in 1997 to determine the effect compost has upon overall tree growth, health, and productivity. Eleven of these were also test sites in 1996. These sites can be categorized as follows: 1) existing orchard to which compost was applied as a topdress, 2) old orchard site replanted with an application of compost either before or after planting, 3) new orchard site planted with an application of compost either before or after planting, and 4) interplant.

Existing Orchards   Three orchard sites were topdressed with compost in 1996. One of the three sites re-applied compost in 1997. In all cases the compost was applied manually with shovels or buckets. Composts included Nielsen chicken, Stutzman chicken, Sunland chicken, Lincoln chicken, Cedar Grove yard waste, and BION. Rates varied from 0 - 136 lb/tree. Measurements taken include leaf N, SPAD (leaf greenness), trunk diameter or circumference, fruit weight, fruit diameter, and crop yield. The % increase in trunk cross-sectional area (TCSA) was calculated and used as the main index of tree growth.

Trees in the existing orchards exhibited considerably less annual trunk growth increments than the new plantings, as would be expected of the shift from vegetative growth to fruiting. Trees were generally 5-6 years old, producing poorly, and not filling their space. Annual trunk growth increases ranged from10 - 38% in the year of compost application to 5 - 31% in the year after application. At the site with repeated compost applications, trunk growth increases were essentially unchanged. Compost has not statistically improved any variable measured, although some expected differences can be seen at the organically managed site, i.e. more kg. fruit per cross-sectional area of trunk with the higher compost rates.

Obviously additions of compost can not be seen as a quick fix for established trees which have undergone growth-inhibiting stresses. It is possible that longer term multiple applications of compost can improve tree performance, but economically a grower may be ahead to simply remove them, improve the soil (or condition causing the stress), and then replant.

Replant Composts can be applied before planting to either the tree row or individual tree holes. They can also be applied after planting. The 6 test sites included here utilized all three methods. Two of these tests included the use of new imported soil put into the planting hole (results under New Orchard planting below). Using compost as a replacement to fumigation is also being tested. Composts used include Stutzman chicken, Lincoln chicken, Sunland chicken, Lincoln cow feedlot, Cedar Grove yard waste, and Cascade yard waste, as well as leonardite, a humic acid material. Rates ranged from 0 - 45 tons/acre. Measurements taken included % trunk growth increment and leaf N.

One site has been monitored for 3 years now. It is showing that additions of 20 to 40% compost (by volume) to the planting hole can improve growth. Interestingly, there was no measurable effect the first year. A second site with in-the-hole treatments is only in its first year, again showing no differences. The sites with broadcast compost applications are showing no significant differences.

Overall trunk growth increases ranged from 23 - 75% for first leaf, 40 - 152% for second leaf, and 35 - 71% for third leaf (one test). Comparing the method of application, compost added to the planting hole appears to give a better tree response than broadcast applications. However, use of high salt composts in the planting hole can inhibit tree growth or kill the trees and should be avoided or greatly diluted.

New orchard planting Two orchard sites were replanted using new soil in the planting hole. Three sites were newly planted on previously unfarmed soil. Compost was either added to and mixed in with the soil material placed into the augured tree hole or broadcast onto the tree row. Broadcast applications include before planting with incorporation and after planting. Materials added include leonardite, Stutzman chicken, Cedar Grove yard waste, Sunland chicken, BION, BION plus ground fish, an organic mineral mix, off-site new soil, on-site old orchard soil, and a biosolid soil mix. Rates ranged from 0 - 40% volume of the augured hole, 0 - 20 tons per acre, and 0 - 2 cups of leonardite/tree. The Biosolid mix treatment was 100% volume of the augured hole. Measurements taken included % trunk growth increment , leader growth, and leaf N.

Adding compost along with new soil improved growth at one of the two replant sites only the first year. The second site showed a trend of greater growth in year two, but it was not significant.

Compost treatments dramatically improved growth at a new site where the compost was added to the hole. Here leonardite enhanced growth 2 years in a row. The broadcast compost treatments with incorporation have not improved tree growth to date.

Almost all trees planted in new ground or with new soil have grown very well. Trunk growth increases have ranged from 57 - 142% (first leaf), 61 - 153% (second leaf), and 20 - 59% (third leaf, one test). The data from these tests illustrate how current management, including soil fumigation, does not appear to be returning replant sites to their full production potential.

 Interplant At one site, new trees were interplanted into a young planting where some trees had failed. Various composts and rates were added to the planting holes. Very few trees grew well. Trunk growth increases ranged from 21 - 34%.

 For more information, contact David Granatstein or Patty Dauer, Washington State University Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center, Wenatchee, WA. Tel. (509) 663-8181 x.222. email:granats@wsu.edu

This research was conducted as part of a cooperative effort between WSU and The Food Alliance. Funding for this project comes from a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation Integrated Farming Systems program.

 

Summary of 1997 Data

Trials on orchard replant with compost and old orchard soil
  • All data are reported as the % increase in trunk cross-sectional area (TCSA)

1995 ZurHausen Replant

3 year

Scarlet Red Delicious

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3

Cumulative

Old soil + 0% compost

49.2

107.7

39.5

342.1

Old soil + 5% compost

51.0

74.8

34.8

266.8

Old soil +10% compost

46.7

111.5

36.1

319.9

Old soil +20% compost

54.1

138.7

50.9

462.5

Old soil +40% compost

47.3

152.2

70.7

550.1

Average

49.7

117.0

46.4

388.3

1996 Stevens Replant - Gala

2 year

With Leonardite

Year 1

Year 2

Cumulative

Control

45.9

77.1

123.0

Stutzman Chicken 10 T/A

47.0

81.8

128.8

Stutzman Chicken 20 T/A

41.5

79.1

120.6

Stutzman Chicken 30 T/A (1 rep only)

28.5

102.9

131.4

Lincoln Chicken 15 T/A

41.6

78.7

120.0

Lincoln Chicken 30 T/A

40.8

89.5

130.3

Lincoln Chicken 45 T/A (1 rep only)

7.4

50.7

58.1

average( L.C. 45 T not included)

40.9

84.9

125.7

Without Leonardite

Control (2 reps only)

34.9

74.8

109.6

Stutzman Chicken 20 T/A (2 reps only)

29.9

77.7

107.6

Stutzman Chicken 30 T/A (1 rep only)

23.9

40.0

63.9

Lincoln Chicken 30 T/A (2 reps only)

32.4

91.4

123.8

Lincoln Chicken 45 T/A (1 rep only)

30.9

108.6

139.5

Average

29.3

79.4

108.7

1996 Brownfield Replant

2 year

Gala

Year 1

Year 2

Cumulative

Lincoln Cow Feedlot, Low - 2 ton/A

42.5

100.1

185.8

Lincoln Cow Feedlot, Medium - 3 ton/A

40.4

87.8

164.1

Lincoln Cow Feedlot, High - 5 ton/A

43.1

94.2

178.9

Lincoln Chicken, Low - 3 ton/A

43.1

101.8

188.8

Lincoln Chicken, Medium - 5 ton/A

44.1

93.2

178.2

Lincoln Chicken, High - 7.5 ton/A

47.2

97.6

203.0

average

43.4

95.8

183.1

1996 Van Winkle Replant

2 Fuji varieties on different rootstocks

Year 1

Year 2

Lincoln Chicken 22 T/A - Red Fuji Nagafu M9

53.0

Lincoln Chicken 44 T/A

65.3

North Check - Red Fuji BC#2 Emla 26

87.9

Cedar Grove 20 T/A

98.9

Cedar Grove 30 T/A

109.7

Cedar Grove 40 T/A

90.1

South Check - Red Fuji BC#2 Emla 26

82.0

Cedar Grove 20 T/A

99.0

Cedar Grove 30 T/A

93.1

Lincoln Chicken 22 T/A

72.0

average

85.1

Wenatchee Valley College - Sunnyslope

Gala on M26

Fumigated Section

Year 1

No Compost; 2 Cups Rhizone

50.7

5 Gal Compost + 1 Cup Rhizone

55.8

5 Gal Compost + 2 Cups Rhizone

53.6

10 Gal Compost

71.9

10 Gal Compost + 1 Cup Rhizone

36.2

10 Gal Compost + 2 Cups Rhizone

54.0

10 Gal Compost + 1 Cup Rhizone + root dip

75.0

average

56.8

Non-Fumigated Section

Year 1

No Compost; 2 Cups Rhizone

28.1

10 Gal Compost

53.8

10 Gal Compost + 2 Cups Rhizone

52.6

No Compost; Root Dip

43.5

10 Gal Compost + Root Dip

23.4

10 Gal Compost + 3 Cups Rhizone + Root Dip

74.8

10 Gal Compost + 1 Cup Rhizone + Root Dip

59.9

average

48.0

Goehry Interplant

Gala

Year 1

Check

26.8

Leonardite

26.8

BION

31.6

BION + Leonardite

25.8

Cedar Grove

23.5

Cedar Grove + Leonardite

33.4

Lincoln

22.4

Lincoln + Leonardite

21.3

average

26.3

 

Trials on orchard plantings - New Plantings and Replant with new soil

  • All data are reported as the % increase in trunk cross-sectional area (TCSA) *

1995 ZurHausen Replant

3 year

Scarlet Red Delicious on M111

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3

Cumulative

New soil + 0% compost

68.5

133.1

58.1

508.1

New soil + 5% compost

56.3

152.8

48.1

494.6

New soil +10% compost

79.7

140.0

53.4

560.4

New soil +20% compost

96.3

117.4

20.0

409.2

New soil +40% compost

102.2

134.5

54.6

609.7

average

80.6

135.6

46.8

516.4

1996 ZurHausen Replant

2 year

Gala

Year 1

Year 2

Cumulative

Check ( all new soil )

111.3

121.6

368.8

Sunland 10% ( of the planting hole ), remainder new soil

113.8

133.3

400.1

Sunland 20% ( of the planting hole ), remainder new soil

97.4

136.3

367.1

Cedar Grove 10% ( of the planting hole ), remainder new soil

124.7

145.0

450.2

Cedar Grove 20% ( of the planting hole ), remainder new soil

111.4

138.0

403.1

Biosolid 100% ( of the planting hole )

40.8

108.4

194.4

average (Biosolid not included)

111.7

134.8

397.9

1996 Goehry new planting

2 year

Cameo on M26

Year 1

Year 2

Cumulative

10 T/A Cedar Grove

99.4

102.0

299.8

20 T/A Cedar Grove

106.3

97.7

314.9

Check

99.0

96.4

294.7

Average

101.6

98.7

303.1

1996 Goehry Compost In-The-Hole new planting

2 year

Cameo on M26

Year 1

Year 2

Cumulative

Check

57.5

60.6

152.4

Leonardite, 1 cup

86.3

112.2

294.1

Stutzman, 2.5 gal

38.1

107.4

187.5

Stutzman, 2.5 gal + leonardite, 1 cup

19.3

126.6

170.7

Stutzman, 4 gal

58.6

142.4

280.7

Cedar Grove, 2.5 gal

97.7

82.3

262.3

Cedar Grove, 5 gal

91.3

104.3

294.1

Cedar Grove, 5 gal + leonardite, 1 cup

114.0

106.2

333.5

Cedar Grove, 5 gal + leonardite, 2 cup

139.6

114.1

414.0

Aliette root dip

64.1

88.2

209.2

no root dip

96.2

107.5

307.3

average

78.4

104.7

264.2

1996 Sullivan new planting

2 year

Cameo

Year 1

Year 2

Cumulative

K-mag, rock P, sulfur, bloodmeal

45.5

97.1

188.2

BION + ground fish

77.9

120.9

296.0

BION

85.5

122.3

307.3

average

69.6

113.4

263.8

1996 Sullivan new planting

2 year

Fuji

Year 1

Year 2

Cumulative

K-mag, rock P, sulfur, bloodmeal

107.6

148.8

423.5

BION + ground fish

125.8

147.1

465.0

BION

141.7

144.8

485.2

average

125.0

146.9

457.9

 

 

Trials on poor growing trees ( 5-8 yr old ) - Surface application of composts
  • All data are reported as the % increase in trunk cross-sectional area (TCSA) *

Van Winkle Desert Rose

2 year

Gala on EMLA 26

Year 1

Year 2

Cumulative

Check

22.4

20.2

48.8

5 gal Lincoln Chicken compost spread over weed strip

25.1

27.6

55.4

10 gal L. C. compost spread over weed strip

23.9

29.1

63.8

15 gal L. C. spread over weed strip

25.5

23.9

50.7

15 gal L. C. incorporated

24.8

24.0

50.6

20 gal L. C. spread over weed strip

24.1

20.7

51.2

average

24.3

24.2

53.4

Cook

2 year

Fuji

Year 1

Year 2

Cumulative

Check

32.3

31.0

73.4

1 scoop (6 lb) chicken compost

35.6

29.0

74.9

2 scoops (12 lb) chjcken compost

37.6

25.8

73.4

4 scoops (24 lb) chicken compost

37.9

23.6

70.2

average

35.8

27.4

73.0

Goehry

2 year

Fuji on Mark

Year 1

Year 2

Cumulative

BION, 2-2 1/2 gallons

14.7

15.7

32.7

BION, 4 - 5 gallons

12.0

17.2

31.3

Cedar Grove, 2-2 1/2 gallons

16.8

15.6

34.8

Cedar Grove, 4 - 5 gallons

17.2

12.5

31.7

Stutzman, 2-2 1/2 gallons

10.1

5.1

13.3

Stutzman, 4 - 5 gallons

10.6

15.1

27.2

North end check

15.4

14.9

32.6

South end check

16.1

15.0

32.0

average

14.1

13.9

29.5