Organic crop management can decrease labile soil P and promote mycorrhizal association of crops
Welsh, Catherine M.
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A concern with organic farming is for the depletion of soil phosphorus. The objectives of this study were to determine which organic management systems deplete soil phosphorus and whether arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) could assist crops in taking up phosphorus in these systems. The research site was a 14 year-old study at Glenlea, Manitoba, having 3 different 4-year rotations under organic and conventional management: forage-grain ± manure-compost, grain-only, and a restored tall grass prairie. The modified Hedley procedure revealed organic systems to have lower concentrations of labile phosphorus than conventional but recalcitrant fractions did not differ (P < 0.05). Nitrogen was limiting in the organic grain-only rotation; phosphorus in the organic forage-grain. Mycorrhizal colonization as arbuscules was higher in organic than conventional systems (P < 0.05). To prevent phosphorus limitation, we suggest high-export organic rotations be balanced with sufficient rates of manure-compost and AMF maintained to help with phosphorus absorption.