, Volume 331, Issue 1-2, pp 265-275
Date: 29 Dec 2009

New agricultural practices in the Loess Plateau of China do not reduce colonisation by arbuscular mycorrhizal or root invading fungi and do not carry a yield penalty

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Agricultural practices aimed to reduce soil erosion and improve crop yield have been suggested to influence the activity of arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) and root pathogenic fungi. We conducted a two-year field survey to investigate the effect of recently introduced agricultural practices on crop yield, AM colonisation and percentage isolation of root-invading fungi on the heavily eroded Loess Plateau of China. A rotation of maize (Zea mays L.), winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) and soybean (Glycine max L.) replaced monoculture of winter wheat. No-tillage (NT), and return of previous crop residues to the field in tilled (CTR) and non-tilled (NTR) systems replaced conventional tillage (CT). Yield, biomass and phosphorus content of the crops showed similar trends. Residue application increased yields of maize and soybean independent of tillage treatment in 2004, but only under CT in 2005. CT slightly increased maize yield. Neither residue application nor tillage treatment affected yield of wheat. None of the treatments influenced total percent isolation of root-invading fungi from wheat roots. The increase of some individual pathogenic fungi in NT did not translate into reduction of yield by disease. Importantly, the recommended practices did not have a penalty on yield while maintaining high levels of AM colonisation.

Responsible Editor: Timothy Richard Cavagnaro.