Submitted to: Concise Encyclopedia of Temperate Zone Tree Fruits
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: September 12, 2002
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Conventional orchard management is guided by the goal of maximizing bearing potential per hectare in order to increase short term gains. Within this framework, growers typically rely on management practices that are linked to external or off-farm inputs. These external inputs include synthetic pesticides used to control insects, diseases and weeds; synthetic fertilizers and irrigation systems; and synthetic growth regulators used t control numerous aspects of fruit production such as budbreak or bloom, fruit set, preharvest drop, size and color. Shortcomings of reliance on these inputs include pesticide resistance, soil degradation, collateral injury to nontarget organisms, and concerns for human health. Despite increases in short-term gains through conventional practices, these management systems reduce long-term sustainability given their reliance on off-farm inputs to establish and maintain production. Sustainable production in agricultural systems must include consideration of economics and profitability, environmental protection, conservation of natural resources, and social responsibility. Alternative production systems that view an orchard as a potentially sustainable agroecosystem are becoming more widely accepted as these systems develop management strategies that lead to less reliance on external inputs. These widely studied approaches to achieving sustainable orchard production are integrated pest management (IPM), integrated fruit production (IFP), and organic production.