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Fungal/bacterial ratios in grasslands with contrasting nitrogen management

de Vries, Franciska T; Hofland, Ellis; van Eekeren, Nick; Brussaard, Lijbert and Bloem, Jaap (2006) Fungal/bacterial ratios in grasslands with contrasting nitrogen management. Soil Biology &Biochemistry (38), pp. 2092-2103.

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Summary

It is frequently hypothesised that high soil fungal/bacterial ratios are indicative for more sustainable agricultural systems.Increased F/B ratios have been reported in extensively managed grasslands.To determine the shifts in fungal/bacterial biomass ratio as in fluenced by grassland management and to find relations with nitrogen leaching potential,we sampled a two-year-old field experiment at an organic experimental farm in the eastern part of The Netherlands.The effect of crop (grass and grass-clover),N application rate (0, 40, 80,120 kg N/ha 1 )and manure type (no manure,farm yard manure and slurry)on the F / B ratio within three growing seasons was tested, as well as relations with soil and crop characteristics,nitrate leaching and partial N balance. Biomass of fungi and bacteria was calculated after direct counts using epi fluorescence microscopy. Fungal and bacterial biomass and the F B ratio were higher in grass than in grass-clover.The F/B ratio decreased with increasing N application rate and multiple regression analysis revealed a negative relationship with pH. Bacterial activity (measured as incorporation of [3H]thymidine and [14C]leucine into bacterial DNA and proteins)showed the exact opposite:an increase with N application rate and pH. Leaching increased with N application rate and was higher in grass-clover than in grass. Partial N balance was more positive at a higher N application rate and showed an inverse relationship with fungal biomass and F/B ratio.We conclude that the fungal/bacterial biomass ratio quickly responded to changes in management. Grasslands with higher N input showed lower F/B ratios.Grass-clover had a smaller fungal biomass and higher N leaching than grass.In general,a higher fungal biomass indicated a lower nitrogen leaching and a more negative partial N balance (or smaller N surplus), but more observations are needed to con firm the relationship between F/B ratio and sustainability.


EPrint Type:Journal paper
Keywords:Grassland;Microbial biomass;Fungi;Bacteria;Management;Nitrogen;Leaching;Clover
Subjects: Soil > Soil quality > Soil biology
Research affiliation: Netherlands > Wageningen University and Research Centre WUR
Netherlands > Louis Bolk Institute
Netherlands > Wageningen University and Research Centre WUR > Research Institute for the Green World Alterra
Deposited By: Steinbuch, Luc
ID Code:9382
Deposited On:24 Oct 2006
Last Modified:12 Apr 2010 07:34
Document Language:English
Status:Published
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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