Scientist examines soil and nutrient management

A scientist at the Summerland Research and Development Centre is studying nutrient management for apples, cherries and grapes.

A scientist at the Summerland Research and Development Centre is studying nutrient management for apples, cherries and grapes.

Dr. Mehdi Sharifi began work at the Summerland station in October, but he has been researching soil for more than 15 years.

He has worked at Agriculture Canada facilities in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick and has served as an assistant professor at the Environmental Sciences Department at the Faculty of Agriculture at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia.

His goal is to improve the profitability and sustainability of horticultural systems. This will affect orchards and vineyards throughout the Okanagan Valley.

As a result, he hopes to work in direct contact with the horticulture industry in the region.

Sharifi said climate change means soil management is also changing.

“Any changes in the climate will directly affect the soil,” he said. “Soil is a living system.”

While Summerland and the rest of the South Okanagan is a dry environment, changing climate patterns mean more extreme weather events, which in turn are affecting agriculture.

“The health of the planet is connected to the health of the soil, so we need to take care of the soil,” he said.

The quality of the soil affects air and water and plant productivity.

“This is the future of agriculture,” he said.