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Influence of Orchard Grazing on Soil Health and Pest Control While Mitigating Food Safety Risks


Our long-term goal is to facilitate adoption of organicintegrated crop-livestock systems (ICLS) practices within nut and fruit agriculture throughout the United States, by leveraging the research outputs described in this proposal to create a decision analysis tools encompassing food safety risk, economic cost/benefit, soil enhancement, water conservation, and pest management. These tools would be employed by a diverse range of stakeholders (growers, educators, policymakers, certifiers) to implement and regulate these systems in an evidence-based, economical, and sustainable fashion.The overall objective of this proposal is to develop on-farm research plots in which livestock are integrated into perennial nut crop systems in major production zones to quantify the impacts of sheep grazing of cover crops in organic orchards on soil ecosystems, suppression of common pests of high economic importance, food safety risks, and socioeconomic metrics. Our specific objectives are to measure effects of integrated crop-livestock systems (ICLS) on 1) N availability and soil health (Activity 1); 2) presence and persistence of navel orangeworm (Activity 2); 3) determination of the optimal time-interval between grazing and nut harvesting as a function of environmental & soil parameters to reduce foodborne contamination (Activity 3); 4) determination of the economic costs and benefits of grazing sheep in organic tree nut orchards (Activity 4); and 5) development of an outreach program to guide the implementation of ICL systems in nut production (Activity 5).

Pires, Alda
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