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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Microbial Parameters after Long-Term Use of Biodynamic and Conventional Management

Authors
item Carpenter-Boggs, Lynne - WASHINGTON STATE UNIV.
item Reganold, John - WASHINGTON STATE UNIV.
item Kennedy, Ann

Submitted to: Biology and Fertility of Soils
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: January 1, 1999
Publication Date: January 1, 2000
Citation: Carpenter-Boggs, L., Reganold, J.P., and Kennedy, A.C. Effects of biodymic preparations on compost development. Biological Agriculture and Horticulturre 17: 313-328. 2000.

Interpretive Summary: Biodynamic farming systems are increasing in the U.S. and around the globe, but their effects on soil quality have not been fully investigated. Seven pairs of biodynamically and conventionally managed farm fields in British Columbia, Canada, were studied to compare biological parameters of soil quality. Biodynamically managed topsoil gave higher measures of mineralizable carbon and microbial enzymatic activity. Biodynamic and conventional soils also have different microbial community profiles. Biodynamic farms use primarily organic fertilizers (compost), while conventional farms use primarily mineral fertilizers. This difference in fertilizer type could cause changes such as those seen in this study. This research adds to the limited scientific literature comparing biodynamic and conventional management systems' effects on soil quality. This research will impact farmers who are considering adoption of biodynamic farm management, and extension agents who may advise farmers on Biodynamic farming systems.

Technical Abstract: Seven pairs of biodynamically and conventionally managed farm fields in British Columbia, Canada, were studied to compare biological parameters of soil quality. Parameters included readily mineralized carbon, microbial biomass, respiration, dehydrogenase activity,and qCO2. Readily mineralized carbon and dehydrogenase activity were greater in biodynamically farmed topsoil than in conventionally farmed topsoil. Fatty acids extracted from soils give a 'fingerprint' of the microbial community. After principal component analysis of fatty acid data, microbial communities in biodynamically farmed soils could be distinguished from microbial communities in conventionally farmed soils.

Last Modified: 12/19/2014
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