Quantification of the effects of rotation breaks on soil biological properties and their impact on yield decline in sugarcane

Pankhurst, C.E., Stirling, G.R., Magarey, R.C., Blair, B.L., Holt, J.A., Bell, M.J., and Garside, A.L. (2005) Quantification of the effects of rotation breaks on soil biological properties and their impact on yield decline in sugarcane. Soil Biology & Biochemistry, 37 (6). pp. 1121-1130.

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Abstract

Three contrasting rotation breaks (sown pasture, alternate crops and bare fallow) were established at five sites in Queensland, Australia, on land that had been under sugarcane monoculture for at least 20 years. The breaks were in place for 30–42 months at four sites and for 12 months at the fifth site. The effects of the breaks on selected soil biological properties were assessed following the removal of the breaks and before the area was re-planted with sugarcane. At the four sites with the long-term breaks, microbial biomass increased under the pasture break, declined under the bare fallow break and did not change significantly under the crop break, compared to microbial biomass under continual sugarcane. At these sites, populations of the root lesion nematode (Pratylenchus zeae) declined under all three breaks whereas populations of free-living nematodes increased under the pasture and crop breaks but declined under the bare fallow break. At the site with the 12 month breaks, a forage legume pasture increased microbial biomass, reduced lesion nematodes and together with the crop break increased populations of free-living nematodes. At the four sites with the long-term breaks there was an increase in the ratio of fungal:bacterial fatty acids and an increase in fatty acid 16:1ω5c (used as a biomarker for mycorrhizal fungi) under the pasture and crop breaks. Also at these sites, the soil microbial community under the pasture, crop and bare fallow breaks, respectively, showed increased, no change or diminished capacity to utilize carbon substrates compared to the soil microbial community under continual sugarcane. The yield of the sugarcane crop following all three breaks was significantly higher than the yield of the crop following continual sugarcane at each of the sites with the long-term breaks. Examination of the longevity of the effect of the rotation breaks on soil biological properties at the sites with the long-term breaks, suggested that effects on some soil organisms (e.g. lesion nematodes) maybe short-lived.

Item ID: 14084
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1879-3428
Keywords: bare fallow; fatty acids; fumigation; fungi; microbial biomass; pasture; sugarcane; yield decline
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Date Deposited: 01 Dec 2010 05:04
FoR Codes: 07 AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY SCIENCES > 0703 Crop and Pasture Production > 070302 Agronomy @ 100%
SEO Codes: 82 PLANT PRODUCTION AND PLANT PRIMARY PRODUCTS > 8203 Industrial Crops > 820304 Sugar @ 100%
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