The Effects of Four Organic Cropping Sequences on Soil Phosphorous Cycling and Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi
Organic farmers across Saskatchewan face soil phosphorus (P) shortages. Due to the restriction on inputs in organic systems, farmers rely on crop rotation and naturally-occurring arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) for plant P supply. Crop rotation is important for disease, pest, and weed management. Crops that are not colonized by AMF (non-mycorrhizal) can decrease colonization of a following crop. An experiment was performed to quantify soil P cycling in four cropping sequences under organic management and determine if mustard (non-mycorrhizal) was delaying the colonization of subsequent wheat. Soils from the four cropping sequences were measured for inorganic soil P (Pi), AMF spore density (SD), phospholipid fatty acid analysis (PLFA, for AMF biomarker counts), and alkaline phosphatase activity (ALPase, related to AMF metabolic activity). Plants were measured for AMF colonization and P content and uptake of above-ground biomass. A lack of difference in AMF activity indicated that mustard was not depressing colonization. Instead, AMF colonization was largely determined by crop type and crop rotation.
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