Biology and Fertility of Soils

, Volume 44, Issue 3, pp 443–450 | Cite as

Vineyard soils under organic and conventional management—microbial biomass and activity indices and their relation to soil chemical properties

  • Björn Probst
  • Christian Schüler
  • Rainer Georg JoergensenEmail author
Original Paper


Eight vineyards in Pfaffenheim (P) and Turckheim (T) close to Colmar, France, forming four pairs of organic and conventional vineyards, were analyzed for microbial biomass and activity indices in relation to important soil chemical properties (carbon, nutrient elements, heavy metals) and also to differences between the bottom and top positions on the vineyard slope. The question was whether the vineyard management affects especially the soil microbiological indices. Three locations were on limestone (P-I, P-II, T-II), one on granite (T-I). The gravel content (>2 mm) ranged from 9 to 47%. The management systems had no significant main effect on the contents of organic C, total N, P, and S. The mean total contents of man-derived heavy metals decreased in the order Cu (164 μg g−1 soil) > Zn (100 μg g−1 soil) > Pb (32 μg g−1 soil). The contents of microbial biomass C varied between 320 and 1,000 μg g−1 soil. The significantly highest content was found at location P-II, the significantly lowest at the moderately acidic location T-I. The contents of microbial biomass N and adenosine triphosphate showed a similar trend. At location T-I, the fungal ergosterol-to-microbial biomass C ratio and the metabolic quotient qCO2 were significantly highest, whereas the percentage of soil organic C present as microbial biomass C was lowest. Highest percentages of soil organic C present as microbial biomass C and lowest qCO2 values were found in the organic in comparison with the conventional vineyards. None of the soil microbiological indices was significantly affected by the position on the slope, but all were significantly affected by the management system. This was mainly due to the highest index levels in the organic vineyard location P-II with the longest history in organic management.


Microbial biomass ATP Ergosterol Metabolic quotient Gravel Slope Cu Biodynamic 



We would like to thank the winegrowers for access to their sites and many useful discussions. We would also like to thank Ruth Lehnart, Geisenheim, for her help with the analytical procedures and Gabriele Dormann, Witzenhausen, for her skilled technical assistance.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Björn Probst
    • 1
  • Christian Schüler
    • 2
  • Rainer Georg Joergensen
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Soil Biology and Plant NutritionUniversity of KasselWitzenhausenGermany
  2. 2.Department of Organic Farming and CroppingUniversity of KasselWitzenhausenGermany

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