The Capacity of Conservation and Regenerative Organic Agriculture to Positively Influence Soil Bulk Density, Soil Organic Carbon, Total Nitrogen and Microbiology

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Legrain, Isabelle
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Conservation and regenerative organic agricultural management are potential mitigation strategies for global soil quality degradation. However, comprehensive studies on the success of these managements are limited. This study aimed to provide further understanding on the ability of these managements to positively affect soil quality related to bulk density, soil organic carbon (SOC), total nitrogen (TN), and microbial activity and diversity using phospholipid fatty acid analysis (PLFA). Conservation practices such as no-till (NT) and cover cropping (CC) were compared with conventional practices of disc tillage (T) and no cover cropping (NC). Regenerative organic practices were analyzed for effectiveness at improving soils transitioning from conventional management. Results showed that conservation management did not significantly lower bulk density when compared to conventional management, however, significantly higher SOC, TN, and microbial activity were measured. Regenerative organic management did improve all aforementioned indicators, however, shifts in microbial structure posed potential issues when analyzing fungal communities. Overall, these managements were found to be capable of improving soil quality, but longer study duration is needed to accuratel y assess implications to bulk density and microbial community structure.