Relationships Between Soil Biological and Physical Properties in a Long-term Vegetable Management Study

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Title: Relationships Between Soil Biological and Physical Properties in a Long-term Vegetable Management Study
Author: Overstreet, Laura Flint
Advisors: Shuijin Hu, Committee Member
Greg D. Hoyt, Committee Chair
Michael Wagger, Committee Member
Wei Shi, Committee Member
Abstract: Agricultural management decisions that influence biological activity and diversity include tillage, fertilizer and pest-control inputs, and crop rotations. Our research objective was to characterize relationships between biological and physical properties resulting from long-term agricultural management decisions. A nine-year old factorially-designed field experiment was used to examine the effects of tillage (moldboard plow or strip-tillage), input (synthetic fertilizers and pesticides or inputs approved for organic certification programs), and crop rotation (continuous staked tomatoes or 3-year vegetable rotation) on a suite of biological and physical soil parameters. Biological measurements included microbial, nematode, and earthworm community composition, soil respiration and N mineralization potential, enzyme activity, and microbial biomass. Physical property measurements included aggregate stability, bulk density, and pore-size distribution. Biological properties generally responded to all treatment combinations, but tillage provided the strongest treatment effect in most cases. Compared to strip-tillage, tillage consistently yielded significantly lower values for the following biological measurements: total C and N, above-ground biomass, microbial biomass, enzyme activity, soil respiration, N mineralization, some nematode trophic groups, and earthworms. Compared with organic inputs, synthetic inputs consistently induced significantly lower values for the following biological measurements: microbial biomass, enzyme activity, some nematode trophic groups, and soil respiration. An examination of relationships between biological and physical parameters using redundancy analysis revealed that microporosity was the physical property that was most strongly correlated with most biological parameters. Soil organisms responded to our treatments in the following order: tillage > input > rotation.
Date: 2005-11-29
Degree: PhD
Discipline: Soil Science
URI: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.16/3658


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