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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Orono, Maine » New England Plant, Soil and Water Research Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #238434

Title: A systems approach for enhancing soil quality and plant health under organic and conventional conditions: Introduction

item TAVANTZIS, STELLOS - University Of Maine
item Larkin, Robert - Bob
item ALYOKHIN, ANDREI - University Of Maine
item ERICH, M. SUSAN - University Of Maine
item BERNARD, EDWARD - University Of Maine
item GROSS, SERENA - University Of Maine

Submitted to: Northeast Potato Technology Forum
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/2/2009
Publication Date: 3/6/2009
Citation: Tavantzis, S., Larkin, R.P., Alyokhin, A., Erich, M., Bernard, E., Gross, S. 2009. A systems approach for enhancing soil quality and plant health under organic and conventional conditions: Introduction. Northeast Potato Technology Forum. Proceedings page 10.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The effects of compost and biological amendments, as well as a fall Brassica green manure crop, on soil fertility, soil microbial communities, soil-borne diseases, insect pests and potato yield quality and quantity were assessed at two farm sites in Northern Maine in 2007 and 2008. The two sites were: Aroostook Farm (AF), a research farm using conventional production practices, in Presque Isle, ME, and Wood Prairie Farm (WP), a commercial organic farm, in Bridgewater, ME. Biological amendments consisted of one of three different biocontrol agents, hypovirulent Rhizoctonia solani Rhs 1A1 (HvRs), Bacillus subtilis (Bsub), and Trichoderma virens (Tvir), added to plots with and without a conifer-based (Hemlock bark) compost amendment (Cobscook blend), in addition to a non-amended control. All treatments were also assessed with the addition of a fall green manure crop of rapeseed (Brassica napus) or a standard rotation crop (barley or buckwheat) prior to potato. The goals of the project are to improve crop production through the integration of sustainable practices promoting soil regeneration, reduce disease and pest pressure, enhance plant growth, and increase yield quantity and quality. Soil measurements taken include: soil nutrient content, total carbon, total nitrogen, water stable aggregates, bulk density, and soil moisture. Plant emergence, disease symptoms, and insect populations were monitored throughout the growing season. Root disease, tuber disease, and soil microbial populations and characteristics were also evaluated. With the exception of the rapeseed crop rotation, each treatment has been tested for two consecutive field seasons (2007 and 2008). The data of the 2008 season will be presented with frequent comparisons to the data obtained in 2007.