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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania » Eastern Regional Research Center » Characterization and Interventions for Foodborne Pathogens » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #378058

Research Project: Production, Utilization, and Importance of Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi in Sustainable Vegetable Production

Location: Characterization and Interventions for Foodborne Pathogens

Title: Impacts of organic and conventional management on vegetative nutritional level over two years period

item MUKHERJEE, ATANU - Rodale Institute
item OMONDI, EMMANUEL - Rodale Institute
item HEPPERLY, PAUL - Rodale Institute
item SEIDEL, RITA - Rodale Institute
item SMITH, ANDREW - Rodale Institute
item Heller, Wade

Submitted to: Sustainability: The Journal of Record
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/21/2020
Publication Date: 10/28/2020
Citation: Mukherjee, A., Omondi, E., Hepperly, P.R., Seidel, R., Smith, A., Heller, W. 2020. Impacts of organic and conventional management on vegetative nutritional level over two years period. Sustainability: The Journal of Record. 12(21):8965.

Interpretive Summary: The data from this study reveals how levels of various organic nutrients of carrot, pepper, and tomato can be impacted by different farming systems, coupled with AMF inoculation. Our research suggests that antioxidants are turned on and off by environmental stress cues. The flexibility of this response appears enhanced under organic legacy with improved soil. In addition, the research also suggests that stress management will be an effective strategy for increasing antioxidants, vitamins, and other phytonutrients.

Technical Abstract: Nutrient concentration of fruits and vegetables produced in the U.S. has declined in the past 50-70 years. Crop management practices that rely on natural fertilizers and improve soil health are thought to increase crop nutritional quality, yet few studies have compared nutrient concentrations of crops grown in long-term replicated side-by-side trials to verify these claims. An experiment was conducted from 2004-2005 at Rodale Institute’s long-term Farming Systems Trial to investigate the nutritional quality of different vegetables under organic manure (MNR) and conventional (CNV) farming systems, with or without arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) treatment. Mycorrhizal treatment reduced vitamin C content in carrots grown in both systems in 2004, but the reduction in CNV was 87% compared to 28% in MNR. The same treatment reduced antioxidants in carrots in both CNV and MNR. This trend was likely due to suppression of root colonization by non-native fungal species used in inoculum. Cropping systems effects were variable. Organic system increased vitamin C concentration in green peppers by 50% between 2004 and 2005 while CNV system decreased the same nutrient in red peppers by 48% over the same period. Organically grown tomatoes had 40% greater vitamin C concentration compared to CNV in 2005. Vegetable yield declined with time, except for tomato, where yield increased by 51% and 44% under CNV and MNR system respectively. These results show that, in general, organic systems tended to increase the nutrient concentration of tested vegetables compared with conventional systems, while effects of AMF inoculation were inconclusive.