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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Pullman, Washington » WHGQ » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #342401

Research Project: Biology, Ecology, and Genomics of Pathogenic and Beneficial Microorganisms of Wheat, Barley, and Biofuel Brassicas

Location: Wheat Health, Genetics, and Quality Research

Title: Biosolids and conservation tillage: Impacts on soil fungal communities in dryland wheat-fallow cropping systems

item Schlatter, Daniel
item SCHILLINGER, WILLIAM - Washington State University
item BARY, ANDY - Washington State University Extension Service
item Sharratt, Brenton
item Paulitz, Timothy

Submitted to: Soil Biology and Biochemistry
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/21/2017
Publication Date: 12/1/2017
Citation: Schlatter, D.C., Schillinger, W.F., Bary, A.I., Sharratt, B.S., Paulitz, T.C. 2017. Biosolids and conservation tillage: Impacts on soil fungal communities in dryland wheat-fallow cropping systems. Soil Biology and Biochemistry. 115:556-567.

Interpretive Summary: Biosolids are by products of sewage treatment plants, the solid material left over. High in nitrogen, it is being increasingly used by wheat farmers in the dryland cropping systems areas as a fertilizer, being trucked over from the Seattle area. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of the biosolids on fungal communities in the soil, in conjunction with the use of an undercutter. The undercutter is a low-disturbance tillage implement to reduce soil erosion from wind, by keeping more crop residue on the surface. This study showed that biosolids have long-term effects on fungal communities, much larger than the undercutter effect. A small number of fungi were enriched by biosolids, these originated from the soil and used the biosolids as a nutrient source.

Technical Abstract: Organic amendments and conservation tillage are important management tools for reducing soil erosion and improving soil health in agricultural systems, yet the impacts of these practices on soil microbial communities is poorly understood. We evaluated the effects of biosolid amendments and conservation tillage on soil fungal communities in a dryland wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) –summer fallow cropping system in the inland Pacific Northwest, USA (PNW). Biosolids or synthetic fertilizer was used in combination with traditional (disk) or conservation (undercutter) tillage. Fungal communities were characterized from soil and biosolid aggregates after the second application of biosolids in 2015 and before and after the second application of biosolids in 2016 using high-throughput amplicon sequencing. Biosolid amendments substantially altered fungal community composition, but not diversity, relative to synthetic fertilizer. In contrast, although many more fungal taxa were influenced by conservation tillage when synthetic fertilizer was applied, conservation tillage had relatively little effect on soil fungal communities, suggesting that the form of N supplied (mineral or organic) may mediate the effects of increasing crop residue on fungal communities. Biosolid-mediated shifts in fungal communities were correlated with differences in soil characteristics, especially C, N, and P, and were persistent for at least three years after the initial biosolid application. A small number of taxa, including Fusarium, Ulocladium, Gymnoascus, Mortierella, and Neurospora, were highly enriched by biosolids in soil and dominated fungal communities of biosolid aggregates. Results show biosolids can have strong and lasting impacts on soil fungal communities, likely due to their effects on soil nutrients, and select for a small number of fungi capable of utilizing biosolids as a food source.