, Volume 40, Issue 4, pp 222-229

Effects of traditional and biodynamic farmyard manure amendment on yields, soil chemical, biochemical and biological properties in a long-term field experiment

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Abstract

We studied the effects of applications of traditionally composted farmyard manure (FYM) and two types of biodynamically composted FYM over 9 years on soil chemical properties, microbial biomass and respiration, dehydrogenase and saccharase activities, decomposition rates and root production under grass-clover, activity and biomass of earthworms under wheat, and yields in a grass-clover, potatoes, winter wheat, field beans, spring wheat, winter rye crop rotation. The experiment was conducted near Bonn, on a Fluvisol using a randomised complete block design (n=6). Our results showed that plots which received either prepared or non-prepared FYM (30 Mg ha−1 year−1) had significantly increased soil pH, P and K concentrations, microbial biomass, dehydrogenase activity, decomposition (cotton strips), earthworm cast production and altered earthworm community composition than plots without FYM application. Application of FYM did not affect the soil C/N ratio, root length density, saccharase activity, microbial basal respiration, metabolic quotient and crop yields. The biodynamic preparation of FYM with fermented residues of six plant species (6 g Mg−1 FYM) significantly decreased soil microbial basal respiration and metabolic quotient compared to non-prepared FYM or FYM prepared with only Achillea. The biodynamic preparation did not affect soil microbial biomass, dehydrogenase activity and decomposition during 62 days. However, after 100 days, decomposition was significantly faster in plots which received completely prepared FYM than in plots which received no FYM, FYM without preparations or FYM with the Achillea preparation. Furthermore, the application of completely prepared FYM led to significantly higher biomass and abundance of endogeic or anecic earthworms than in plots where non-prepared FYM was applied.