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Effect of conventional and organic orchard floor management practices on arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in a ‘Cripp’s Pink’/M7 apple orchard soil

Meyer, André H., Wooldridge, John, Dames, Joanna F.
Agriculture, ecosystems & environment 2015 v.213 pp. 114-120
apples, calcium, composts, copper, correlation, field experimentation, glomalin, herbicides, leaves, magnesium, manganese, mycorrhizal fungi, nutrients, orchard soils, orchards, pathogenicity, soil depth, soil pH, spores, straw mulches, trees, vesicular arbuscular mycorrhizae, weeds, zinc
Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi are key components of agricultural soil–plant systems, which may be affected by agricultural practices. In organically managed (ORG) orchards, nutrients are supplied in the form of compost, and weeds are suppressed with mulches, whereas synthetic fertilizers and herbicides are used for these respective purposes in conventional (CON) orchards. The effects of ORG and CON orchard floor management practices on native AM fungi in apple orchards were investigated in a randomized field trial. AM root colonization, spore abundance, infectivity potentials and soil glomalin contents were determined in the 0–30cm soil depth interval, in tree rows, over consecutive seasons. Root colonization was higher in the ORG than the CON treatments, but intermediate where straw mulch was substituted for green work-row covers. Glomalin levels were not affected by the treatments. Root colonization by AM fungi increased with increasing soil pH, P, C, K, Zn, and Mn concentrations, but were suppressed by Cu. Colonization correlated positively with leaf P, Ca and Mg, and with stem circumference, but negatively with leaf N and yield. ORG orchard floor management practices therefore, promoted functional AM associations more effectively than CON practices.