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Soil Biological Activity Contributing to Phosphorus Availability in Vertisols under Long-Term Organic and Conventional Agricultural Management

Bhat, Nisar, A.; Riar, Amritbir; Aketi, Ramesh; Iqbal, Sanjeeda; Sharma, Mahaveer P.; Sharma, Sanjay K. and Bhullar, Gurbir S. (2017) Soil Biological Activity Contributing to Phosphorus Availability in Vertisols under Long-Term Organic and Conventional Agricultural Management. Frontiers in Plant Science, 8 (1523), -.

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Document available online at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpls.2017.01523/full


Mobilization of unavailable phosphorus (P) to plant available P is a prerequisite to sustain crop productivity. Although most of the agricultural soils have sufficient amounts of phosphorus, low availability of native soil P remains a key limiting factor to increasing crop productivity. Solubilization and mineralization of applied and native P to plant available form is mediated through a number of biological and biochemical processes that are strongly influenced by soil carbon/organic matter, besides other biotic and abiotic factors. Soils rich in organic matter are expected to have higher P availability potentially due to higher biological activity. In conventional agricultural systems mineral fertilizers are used to supply P for plant growth, whereas organic systems largely rely on inputs of organic origin. The soils under organic management are supposed to be biologically more active and thus possess a higher capability to mobilize native or applied P. In this study we compared biological activity in soil of a long-term farming systems comparison field trial in vertisols under a subtropical (semi-arid) environment. Soil samples were collected from plots under 7 years of organic and conventional management at five different time points in soybean (Glycine max) -wheat (Triticum aestivum) crop sequence including the crop growth stages of reproductive significance. Upon analysis of various soil biological properties such as dehydrogenase, β-glucosidase, acid and alkaline phosphatase activities, microbial respiration, substrate induced respiration, soil microbial biomass carbon, organically managed soils were found to be biologically more active particularly at R2 stage in soybean and panicle initiation stage in wheat. We also determined the synergies between these biological parameters by using the methodology of principle component analysis. At all sampling points, P availability in organic and conventional systems was comparable. Our findings clearly indicate that owing to higher biological activity, organic systems possess equal capabilities of supplying P for crop growth as are conventional systems with inputs of mineral P fertilizers.

EPrint Type:Journal paper
Keywords:biological properties, phosphorus mobilization, soil enzymes, soybean–wheat system, available P
Subjects: Soil > Soil quality
Crop husbandry > Composting and manuring
Research affiliation: Switzerland > FiBL - Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland > International
Deposited By: Forschungsinstitut für biologischen Landbau, FiBL
ID Code:33212
Deposited On:18 May 2018 07:32
Last Modified:18 May 2018 07:32
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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