ENHANCING SUSTAINABILITY OF FOOD PRODUCTION SYSTEMS IN THE NORTHEAST
Location: New England Plant, Soil and Water Research Laboratory
Title: Increases of soil phosphatase and urease activities in potato fields by cropping rotation practices
Submitted to: Journal of Food Agriculture and Environment
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: February 16, 2010
Publication Date: May 1, 2010
Citation: He, Z., Honeycutt, C.W., Griffin, T.S., Larkin, R.P., Olanya, O.M., Halloran, J.M. 2010. Increases of soil phosphatase and urease activities in potato fields by cropping rotation practices. Journal of Food Agriculture and Environment. 8:1112-1117.
Interpretive Summary: Soil enzymes can play an important role in nutrient availability to plants. Consequently, soil enzyme measurements can provide useful information on soil fertility for crop production. We measured two types of enzymes in soils collected from different types of potato rotations. Compared to soils with continuous potato production, rotation with other crops increased levels of both types of enzymes. This study showed that using different rotation crops does alter soil enzymes, thereby influencing nutrient availabiity to crops. The information is valuable to the potato production farming industry.
Potato yield in Maine has remained relatively constant for over 50 years. To identify and quantify constraints to potato productivity, we established Status Quo (SQ), Soil Conserving (SC), Soil Improving (SI), Disease Suppressive (DS), and Continuous Potato (PP) cropping systems under both rainfed and irrigated management. Each system is evaluated by our interdisciplinary team for plant growth and productivity, soil chemical-physical-biological properties, tuber diseases, soilborne diseases, foliar diseases, economics, and their interactions. In this particular analysis, we examined the impact of cropping system and water management on soil phosphatase, urease, and microbial biomass C. Activities of acPase, alPase, and diPase were 28, 80, and 86% higher, respectively, in the SI system than in the PP system. Irrigation also increased alPase, diPase, and urease activities. Under rainfed management, microbial C was highly correlated with phosphatase and urease activities. When measured under buffered conditions, urease activity was highly correlated with rainfed potato yield. To the extent that urease is an indicator of plant N availability, this may reflect the influence of N availability on yield. This study showed that both cropping system and water management influence the activities of several enzymes considered important for plant uptake of N and P.