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Soil Compaction in Tropical Organic Farming Systems and Its Impact on Natural Soil-Borne Disease Suppression: Challenges for Management

Authors: Ishak, L., McHenry, M. T., Brown, P. H.


Organic farming systems still depend on intensive, mechanical soil tillage. Frequent passes by machinery traffic cause substantial soil compaction that threatens soil health. Adopting practices as reduced tillage and organic matter retention on the soil surface are considered effective ways to control soil compaction. In tropical regions, however, the acceleration of soil organic matter decomposition and soil carbon turnover on the topsoil layer is influenced more rapidly by the oscillation process of drying and wetting. It is hypothesized therefore, that rapid reduction in soil organic matter hastens the potential for compaction to occur in organic farming systems. Compaction changes soil physical properties and as a consequence it has been implicated as a causal agent in the inhibition of natural disease suppression in soils. Here we describe relationships between soil management in organic vegetable systems, soil compaction, and declining soil capacity to suppress pathogenic microorganisms.

Keywords: Organic farming systems, soil compaction, soil disease suppression, tropical regions.

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