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Soil microbial communities and activities under intensive organic and conventional vegetable farming in West Java, Indonesia

Moeskops, Bram, Sukristiyonubowo, Buchan, David, Sleutel, Steven, Herawaty, Lenita, Husen, Edi, Saraswati, Rasti, Setyorini, Diah, De Neve, Stefaan
Applied soil ecology 2010 v.45 no.2 pp. 112-120
vegetable crops, soil microorganisms, organic production, intensive cropping, microbial activity, soil fertility, composts, organic fertilizers, mineral fertilizers, animal manures, soil enzymes, species diversity, pesticides, soil biochemistry, soil biological properties, soil organic matter, soil pH, forest soils, vesicular arbuscular mycorrhizae, mycorrhizal fungi, biomarkers, Indonesia
We compared the effect of organic and conventional farming practices on soil microbial dynamics in West Java, Indonesia. A secondary forest was included to obtain natural reference values. On the organic farms, soil fertility is maintained mainly with composted organic matter in contrast to conventional farmers who combine fresh manure and chemical fertilizers, and typically apply large amounts of pesticides. Parameters measured were dehydrogenase, β-glucosidase, acid phosphomonoesterase and β-glucosaminidase activity, microbial biomass C (MBC) and microbial community composition by phospholipid fatty acid analysis. A strong negative impact of intensive chemical fertilizer and pesticide use on soil enzyme activities was demonstrated. Dehydrogenase and β-glucosidase activities were correlated with soil organic matter content and pH. β-glucosidase activity under organic management approached that under forest, while MBC and dehydrogenase activity remained higher under forest. The composition of the soil microbial community strongly differed between forest and cultivated soil, a clear difference in composition was also observed between conventional and organic farming. Dehydrogenase activity and C16:1ω5c, marker fatty acid for arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, appeared to be particularly suited as indicators of the impact of management on soil quality and on the soil microbial community.