Phosphorus cycling in organic systems
Soil phosphorus (P) is often unavailable in SK soils due to immobilization by microbial biomass and complexation with cations. The prohibition of synthetic fertilizer use in organic systems means farmers rely on crop rotation or approved inputs to supply P for crops. Legumes in crop rotation add P to soil through decomposition and deposition, and approved fertilizers such as bone meal (BM), rock phosphate (RP), and composted manure add P to soil through dissolution. Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) improve crop access to soil P. The fungi colonize roots of host crops, allowing roots to reach immobile pockets of soil P. Colonization by AMF is usually decreased or delayed following partial fallow periods, non-host plants, and the addition of soluble P fertilizers. This thesis consists of two studies. For the first, the effects of crop rotation were tested on AMF colonization and soil P dynamics. Colonization by AMF of mycorrhizal crops was examined following a non-mycorrhizal crop, a partial fallow period, and mycorrhizal crops. All crops were colonized evenly (63-70%) at flowering despite non-mycorrhizal and partial fallow periods, and the sequence most depleted in soil N (wheat-barley) had the lowest colonization in August (36%). The second study evaluated soil P and plant N and P after applications of BM, hydroxyapatite (HAP), and sheep manure compost. Compost application increased plant P uptake compared to the control (1.26 vs. 0.71 mg pot-1), while applications of BM and HAP alone did not. Compost application did not affect AMF colonization of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.). Overall this research highlights the importance of legumes and composted manure use in organic systems. Legume use in crop rotation simultaneously increased soil P deposition and may have preserved AMF communities despite fallow periods and non-host crops in rotation. Conditions normally affecting AMF colonization in conventional systems did not apply. The use of composted manure in the greenhouse study resulted in the greatest P uptake and concentrations in wheat. Thus the use of legumes and composted manure may increase P availability to crops directly and indirectly: directly through soil P deposition and perhaps indirectly through the preservation of AMF communities.
DegreeMaster of Science (M.Sc.)
CommitteeBedard-Haughn, Angela; Schoenau, Jeff J.
Copyright DateJanuary 2014
phosphorus, organic farming, arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, legumes, crop rotation, compost, bone meal, hydroxyapatite