Submitted to: New England Vegetable and Fruit Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/15/2005
Publication Date: 11/13/2005
Citation: Griffin, T.S., Porter, G., Erich, S., Mallory, E. 2005. Balancing soil health and nutrient accumulation from long-term organic amendments. New England Vegetable and Fruit Conference Proceedings. p. 170-172. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: In New England and the Northeast, potatoes are usually grown in rotation with either other vegetable crops or with grain or green manure crops. These short rotations, coupled with the intensive tillage associated with potato management (primary tillage, secondary tillage, cultivation, hilling, and digging) have substantially reduced soil organic matter concentration on the sandy soils typically used for producing potatoes. One common strategy to reverse this trend is to apply amendments, including compost, manure, mulch, and other materials. Because these materials are commonly thought of as soil conditioners, the loading of nutrients is often overlooked. Long-term experiments in Maine (more than 15 years of amendment) demonstrate rapid increases in soil carbon (which is beneficial) but also soil phosphorus (P) and nitrogen (N). This is true even when fertilizer P applications are reduced or eliminated. A broad sampling of commercial fields in central Maine also demonstrates the beneficial effect of integrating potato and dairy operations, because of the increased organic matter associated with manure application.