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Effects of plant and animal waste-based compost amendments on the soil food web, soil properties, and yield and quality of fresh market and processing carrot cultivars

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A substantial knowledge gap exists on how compost source and rate of application affect nematode community-based soil food web structure, soil health, soil physiochemistry, and crop yield and quality in short- and full-season crops. We tested effects of plant (PC)- and animal (AC)-based compost at 1, 1.5 and 2× the standard nitrogen (N) rate on processing carrot ‘Cupar’ and fresh market ‘Sugarsnax 54’ (short-season crop) over 2-3 growing seasons. Low abundance of nematodes and domination of herbivores and bacterivores indicate that the field is biologically stressed. While outcomes of most measured parameters varied by compost source and/or rate, an increase in soil food web structure with time was most consistent. A combination of the variable outcomes and correlation patterns suggest that a multifactor analysis may best quantify compost-driven changes in soil ecosystems as opposed to looking for changes in a single parameter.

Affiliations: 1: 1Agricultural Nematology Laboratory, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA ; 2: 2Department of Horticulture, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA ; 3: 3Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA ; 4: 4College of Sciences, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Edinburg, TX 78539, USA

*Corresponding author, e-mail: melakebe@msu.edu
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2018-01-24
2018-06-20

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