Long-term organic management reduces soil-borne diseases and increases crop production
A recent study published in the journal Biologia adds to the growing body of evidence showing organic farming improves microbial conditions in the soil that, in turn, increases disease control and crop yield. This study compared microbiomes (the genetic makeup of all life including bacteria and fungi) in agricultural soil under ten years of organic management versus conventional management. The researchers found that the use of a combination of organic soil amendments, vermicompost and manure, improved soil fertility and carbon sequestration. Organic soils also exhibited more diazotrophs and phosphate solubilizers, which are beneficial microbes that convert nitrogen and phosphorus into forms more easily utilized by plants. This increases nutrient uptake efficiency, which can enhance plant health and productivity. While a wide range of pathogen bacteria that cause soil-borne diseases was found in the conventional soil samples, these pathogens were completely absent in the organic soil samples. These results suggest that long-term organic management not only increases soil fertility, nutrient uptake, and carbon sequestration, it also reduces the risk of plant diseases by altering the diversity of the microbiome in ways that increases beneficial microorganisms.
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