Influence of Orchard Grazing on Soil Health, Food Safety, and Pest Control

Almond, pistachio, and walnut growers plant cover crops between rows of trees to shield soils from eroding rains, suppress weeds, add nutrients, and build more resilient, healthy soils. The mowing of cover crops is often accomplished with tractors, but using small grazing animals instead can potentially reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as save time and labor while adding a forage value. Tree nut growers face a barrier in adopting sustainable grazing practices due to limited knowledge on how to best integrate grazing with existing agronomic practices, as well as concerns about nitrogen budgets and food safety regulations designed to protect consumers from foodborne pathogens. While there is growing interest from tree nut growers to integrate cover crops and grazing animals, uncertainty about how to best do this without comprising fertility and food safety contribute to low rates of adoption of grazing practices.

Learn more about our project here: