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This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 101 No. 5, p. 1027-1035
    Received: Feb 2, 2009

    * Corresponding author(s): tenutam@cc.umanitoba.ca


High Yielding Organic Crop Management Decreases Plant-Available but Not Recalcitrant Soil Phosphorus

  1. C. Welsha,
  2. M. Tenuta *ab,
  3. D. N. Flatena,
  4. J. R. Thiessen-Martensc and
  5. M. H. Entzc
  1. a Dep. of Soil Science, Univ. of Manitoba, Winnipeg MB, Canada, R3T 2N2
    b Canada Research Chair in Applied Soil Ecology
    c Dep. of Plant Science, Univ. of Manitoba, Winnipeg MB, Canada, R3T 2N2


Phosphorus is a nonrenewable resource, raising concerns that agricultural practices may deplete reserves. Organic farming with low P inputs can result in deficient levels of plant-available phosphorus (available-P). The purpose of this study was to determine if common organically managed rotations are depleting P reserves or if large reserves still exist in unavailable forms. The research was performed in the 13th year of the Glenlea Long-term Crop Rotation and Management study in southern Manitoba. The site has three 4-yr rotations under Organic and Conventional management: spring wheat (Triticum aestivum L.)-alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.)-alfalfa-flax (Linum usitatissimum L.) (forage grain) with and without manure compost, and spring wheat-field pea (Pisum sativum L.)-spring wheat-flax (grain only), as well as a restored prairie grass planting (Prairie). Conventional treatments received synthetic fertilizers and herbicides whereas the Organic received no inputs other than a one-time application of manure compost. The modified Hedley sequential P extraction procedure revealed organic management to have lower concentrations of readily available P than conventional but recalcitrant forms were similar between systems. The Prairie had P concentrations similar to conventional in all forms. Estimated cumulative P balance indicated that organic grain-only rotations compared to conventional had low P removal resulting in slightly lower concentration of available-P forms. The high yielding and P removal rotation of forage-grain decreased available-P forms to below an agronomic response threshold. Only high yielding, high P export organic rotations are a concern for developing P deficiency depending on initial reserves and the length of time without additional inputs.

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Copyright © 2009. American Society of AgronomyCopyright © 2009 by the American Society of Agronomy