Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Soil Health: Biotic Fertilizers Help Build the Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture Project Number: 3625-11610-001-30
Project Type: Trust

Start Date: Jul 01, 2013
End Date: Mar 31, 2016

Objective:
1. Evaluate the role of biotic soil amendments on soil biological activity and nutrient availability under laboratory and field conditions. 2. Evaluate the role of biotic soil amendments on soil health improvement and crop productivity under field environments. 3. Design and implementation of a field-based management system using biotic soil amendments to enhance the quality of grain and produce from a production field.

Approach:
The initial studies under this agreement focus on the evaluation of the impact of biotic soil amendments on soil health parameters under a combination of laboratory and field conditions. An assessment will be made of the effect of biotic soil amendments on soil biological activity using respiration and carbon dioxide evolution from the soil as the primary variable along with changes in the soil aggregate stability. A series of laboratory incubation studies evaluating this response for different soils would be conducted for different soil moisture and temperature regimes. The soils used in these analyses would be marginal soils with low organic matter contents. The conduct of these studies would be to utilize disturbed sieved soil samples in 25 cm pots with a depth of 30 cm filled with soil packed to a bulk density typical of surface soil. Biotic fertilizer material would be applied to the surface layer of the pot, followed by a watering to move the material into the soil. Pots would be watered to maintain the soil at 0.75 of field capacity. The first incubation would be conducted on soil with no plants and the second with a small grain crop to evaluate the added effect of root material on the soil biological system. The response of the biotic fertilizer would be compared to no addition of nutrients and to an incorporated urea fertilizer. Each of these treatments would be replicated five times to allow the entire experiment to be conducted in one growth chamber. The chamber environment would be maintained with a maximum of 27°C and minimum of 15°C for the duration of the incubation study.

Last Modified: 4/16/2014
Footer Content Back to Top of Page