Chorro Creek Ranch

Photo of Chorro Creek Ranch
On Cal Poly’s Chorro Ranch, near Cuesta Community College in San Luis Obispo, California, an HSP Demonstration experiment was applied on a 10-acre hayfield. The experiment, launched in October of 2020, assesses the impact of compost application along with reduced tillage practices on soil health, yield, and forage quality on a field with cropley clay soil, grown with a mix of beardless barley, oats, and patron beardless wheat. Soil samples of the field are taken with the help of Cal Poly SLO staff and students every Fall for analysis of bulk density, soil organic carbon, plant available nutrients, soil aggregation, and mineralizable carbon.​ Soil hardness, soil moisture, and infiltration rates are also assessed once a month. So far in this project, we have found little short-term impacts on soil properties of both reduced tillage and compost application. The reduced tillage conservation management resulted in a reduced number of tractor passes, without any effect on yield, allowing for lower fuel, energy, and labor costs. The experiment will continue until September of 2023, where our final findings will be presented.
Region: Central Coast
Production Systems: Hay / alfalfa, Rangeland
Crops/products: Barley, Barley Feed, Oats Grain, Wheat
Conservation Practices: Compost Application, Conservation Tillage, Residue And Tillage Management, Reduced Till
General Soil Types: Clayey/Fine, Loamy


Hayley Barnes
Technical Assistant
Networks/Hubs: CDFA Healthy Soils Demonstration Project