The Madera Compost Project will showcase and assess the benefits of compost and mulch application to tree crops on five acres of almond orchards. Each acre will be divided into three equal sections for each treatment: control, compost, and mulch. All soil health assessments and greenhouse gas emission analyses will be performed by researchers from the University of California, Davis (UCD).
California’s soil is sick. More than half of the state’s irrigated farmland, about 4.5 million acres in total, is affected to some degree by soil salinization (Letey 2000). Too much salt in the ground makes it dry, releasing trapped carbon into the atmosphere as greenhouse gas and gradually rendering farmland less fertile.
When soils are unhealthy, both the planet and a farmer’s pocket book suffer.
A three-year study will be conducted by West Coast Waste to help farmers understand the ways compost and mulch application can promote soil health while increasing profit margins.
The first in a series of free workshops will be held from 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 26, at 9537 Rd. 291/2 in Madera. The theme is Topsoil Applications for Bottom Line Benefits. Topics to be explored include how compost reduces and in some cases eliminates the need for chemical fertilizers, how mulch retards erosion and increases water retention, the equipment necessary to apply soil amendments, and more. Information will be delivered via a classroom lecture followed by a field demonstration. UC Davis researchers will be on hand to co-present the material.
“I talk with a lot of farmers who are looking for ways to increase yields while containing costs,” said Dennis Balakian, managing partner of West Coast Waste. “Many of these farmers are unfamiliar with the working components of compost and mulch application. Farmers should feel confident that in the long run, compost and mulch doesn’t cost them more when they buy and apply, but can actually increase their profits – this workshop and demonstration empowers them with that necessary knowledge.”
The workshop is FREE and will include delicious snacks. Registration is required and is limited to the first 25 respondents.
This project was supported by the “California Climate Investments” program.
Letey, John 2000. “Soil salinity poses challenges for sustainable agriculture and wildlife.” California Agriculture. March-April pp43-48.