Relative Effectiveness of Various Amendments in Improving Yield and Nutrient Uptake under Organic Crop Production


In organic farming, artificial/synthetic inorganic fertilizers/chemicals are not applied to increase crop yields, but adequate amounts of nutrients are essential for sustainable high production from agricultural crops. Two 3-year (2008 - wheat, 2009 – pea, and 2010 - barley) field experiments were conducted on certified organic farms near Spalding (Dark Brown Chernozem – Typic Haploboroll) and Star City (Gray Luvisol – Typic Haplocryalf) in northeastern Saskatche-wan to determine the relative effectiveness of various organic amendments (compost, alfalfa pellets, wood ash, rock phosphate, Penicillium bilaiae, MykePro, or gypsum), and intercropping of non-legume (wheat, barley) and legume (pea) annual crops on seed yield, total biomass yield (TBY) and nutrient uptake in seed + straw of wheat, pea and barley. In 2008, seed yield, TBY and nutrient uptake of wheat increased (but small) with compost and alfalfa pellets. In 2010, seed yield, TBY and nutrient uptake of barley increased substantially with compost and alfalfa pellets and moderately with wood ash. Other amendments had little or no effect on crop yield and nutrient uptake. In 2009, there was no beneficial effect of any amendment on yield and nutrient uptake of pea, most likely due to fixation of N which is the most limiting nutrient in these soils. Intercropping of wheat or barley with pea produced greater seed yield and nutrient uptake per unit land area basis compared to wheat or barley grown as sole crops in most cases. In conclusion, our results suggest potential benefits in improving yield and nutrient uptake of wheat and barley from compost, alfalfa pellets and possibly wood ash, most likely by preventing deficiencies of some nutrients, especially N, lacking in these soils under organic farming. Our findings also suggest the need for future research to determine the feasibility of rock phosphate, Penicillium bilaiae, MykePro, gypsum or other amendments in preventing P and/or S deficiency in organic crops using soils extremely deficient in these nutrients.

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S. Malhi, "Relative Effectiveness of Various Amendments in Improving Yield and Nutrient Uptake under Organic Crop Production," Open Journal of Soil Science, Vol. 2 No. 3, 2012, pp. 299-311. doi: 10.4236/ojss.2012.23036.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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