Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: May 31, 2002
Publication Date: May 31, 2003
Citation: Swietlik, Dariusz. Soil Management and Plant Fertilization. Baugher, T.A., Singha, S., editors. Concise Encyclopedia of Temperate Tree Fruit. 2003. p.295-302. Technical Abstract: Fertilizer needs of fruit trees are defined as the total amounts of all mineral nutrients that have to be applied as fertilizers to sustain normal growth, high productivity, & optimal fruit quality. Although fertilizer needs can be estimated based on plant appearance, soil & plant tissue chem- ical analyses, there is no one single method that is totally reliable & does not possess serious limitations. Field fertilizer trials best predict fertilizer needs, but they are expensive & cannot be easily extrapolated beyond the location of the study. Fertilizer practices consist of applying dry synthetic fertilizers to the soil or injecting liquid fertilizers into irrigation water, the latter being frequently called fertigation. Addition- ally, plant nutrients may be applied with foliar sprays to vegetative plant parts & fruit. After harvest, apples & pears may be dipped in solutions of calcium salts to increase their storage potential. In addition to orchard profitability, sustainable orchard production systems such as: integrated pest management (IPM), integrated fruit production (IFP) & organic produc- tion (OP) also emphasize soil conservation, environmental protection, & ecological stability. The IPM & IFP systems minimize the input of synthetic fertilizers, whereas the OP system totally eliminates them. It relies on natural composts, composted manures & naturally occurring minerals as exclusive sources of plant nutrients. Soil acidity, alkalinity, salinity, & sodicity can be effectively managed using appropriate soil chemical tests, soil amendments, and/or irrigation practices. Mineral nutrient management in fruit orchards is increasingly based on sound science as fruit growers adopt more environmentally friendly production technologies.