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Enhanced soil quality with reduced tillage and solid manures in organic farming - a synthesis of 15 years

Krauss, Maike; Berner, Alfred; Perrochet, Frederic; Frei, Robert; Niggli, Urs and Mäder, Paul (2020) Enhanced soil quality with reduced tillage and solid manures in organic farming - a synthesis of 15 years. Scientific Reports, 10, p. 4430.

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Online at: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-61320-8

Summary

Demands upon the sustainability of farming are increasing in step with climate change and diversity loss. Organic farming offers a viable approach. To further improve organic management, three strategies with potential to enhance soil quality are being tested in a long-term trial since 2002 on a clay loam in temperate Switzerland: reduced tillage vs. ploughing, solid vs. liquid manures and biodynamic preparations. A synthesis of 15 years reveals an increase in topsoil organic carbon (SOC, +25%), microbial biomass (+32%) and activity (+34%) and a shift in microbial communities with conversion from ploughing to reduced tillage. Soils under reduced tillage are more stratified in SOC and nutrients. Additional application of composted manure has increased SOC by 6% compared to pure slurry application, with little impact on soil microbes. Biodynamic preparations have had a minor impact on soil quality. Fertilisation and biodynamic preparations did not affect yields. Both higher and lower yields were harvested in the reduced tillage system in relation to ploughing. The main yield determinants were N supply and higher weed infestation under reduced tillage. Continuously reduced tillage in organic farming has been proven to enhance soil quality at this site, while also presenting more challenges in management.


EPrint Type:Journal paper
Keywords:reduced tillage, climate change, organic farming, soil quality, DOK-Trial, manures
Subjects: Crop husbandry > Composting and manuring
Crop husbandry > Soil tillage
Environmental aspects > Air and water emissions
Research affiliation: Switzerland > FiBL - Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland > Soil
Switzerland > FiBL - Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland > Sustainability > Climate
DOI:10.1038/s41598-020-61320-8
Deposited By: Krauss, Maike
ID Code:37855
Deposited On:07 Apr 2020 07:50
Last Modified:13 Jan 2021 08:40
Document Language:English
Status:Published
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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