Responses of soil biological indicators to different land management on hummocky terrain at two locations in Saskatchewan
Peer Reviewed StatusNon-Peer Reviewed
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Soil biological properties can be used as indicators of soil health in agroecosystems. Specific properties such as microbial abundance and biomass, and enzyme activity are directly related to soil resource availability, organic matter decomposition, and nutrient cycling, which are affected by agricultural land use. Due to this, these properties have the potential to indicate changes in soil health earlier than their physical and chemical counterparts; however, biological properties are less common on assessments of soil health. The objective of this project was to measure how microbial abundance and biomass, and enzyme activity are affected by annual and perennial cropping systems at different landscape positions. Soil samples were taken at two sites in the Dark Brown and Black soil zones respectively, with similar hummocky terrain in Saskatchewan. These samples were analyzed using PLFA analysis to measure microb ial abundance and biomass of microbial groups, and fluorometric enzyme assays to measure activity of the carbon (C) cycling, nitrogen and C cycling, and phosphorus and C cycling enzymes. Preliminary results show increasing enzyme activity through the season under perennial cropping systems at both sites with greater variability of activity under annual crop. Results from this research will improve our understanding of the sensitivity of biological indicators to differences in agricultural land use and management and inform the development of soil health tests tailored to Saskatchewan's soils.
Part OfSoils and Crops Workshop
soil resource availability
organic matter decomposition
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