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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: IMPROVING SOIL AND NUTRIENT MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS FOR SUSTAINED PRODUCTIVITY AND ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY

Location: Soil Plant Nutrient Research (SPNR)

Title: Effect of Cover Crops on Soil Fungal Diversity and Biomass

Authors
item Manter, Daniel
item Delgado, Jorge
item Merlin, Dillon - COLO ST UNIV, CENTER, CO
item Samuel, Essah - COLO ST UNIV, CENTER, CO

Submitted to: Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: January 23, 2007
Publication Date: February 2, 2007
Citation: Manter, D.K., Delgado, J.A., Merlin, D., Samuel, E. 2007. Effect of Cover Crops on Soil Fungal Diversity and Biomass. Meeting Proceedings. pp. 21-22.

Interpretive Summary: The effects of various cover crops (sordan, mustard, canola, honeysweet, and fallow) to influence soil fungal biomass and diversity were tested in a potato field in the San Luis Valley, Colorado. Soil samples (0-5 cm depth) were randomly selected from each cover crop plot and soil fungal communities were analyzed based on fungal DNA profiles. All cover crops increased the soil fungal biomass as compared to the fallow treatment, with the greatest fungal biomass in the sordan plots. On average, 13 different fungal species were identified in each of the various cover crops. Of these species, three are known potato pathogens (Fusarium equiseti, Verticillium sp., and Alternaria solani). Cover crops differed in their ability to suppress, or reduce biomass, of these pathogenic species. For example, the mustard cover crop significantly reduced the biomass of all three species; whereas, sordan significantly reduced both Verticillium sp. and Alternaria solani. Sordan appears to be a beneficial cover crop in potato rotations since it promotes total soil fungal biomass and diversity and presumably a healthier soil, and at the same time can limit the proliferation and abundance of some potato pathogens in the soil.

Technical Abstract: The effects of various cover crops (sordan, mustard, canola, honeysweet, and fallow) to influence soil fungal biomass and diversity were tested in a potato field in the San Luis Valley, Colorado. Soil samples (0-5 cm depth) were randomly selected from each cover crop plot and soil fungal communities were analyzed based on fungal DNA profiles. All cover crops increased the soil fungal biomass as compared to the fallow treatment, with the greatest fungal biomass in the sordan plots. On average, 13 different fungal species were identified in each of the various cover crops. Of these species, three are known potato pathogens (Fusarium equiseti, Verticillium sp., and Alternaria solani). Cover crops differed in their ability to suppress, or reduce biomass, of these pathogenic species. For example, the mustard cover crop significantly reduced the biomass of all three species; whereas, sordan significantly reduced both Verticillium sp. and Alternaria solani. Sordan appears to be a beneficial cover crop in potato rotations since it promotes total soil fungal biomass and diversity and presumably a healthier soil, and at the same time can limit the proliferation and abundance of some potato pathogens in the soil.

Last Modified: 4/18/2014
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