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Soil Health: A Comparison Between Organically and Conventionally Managed Arable Soils in the Netherlands

A. D. van Diepeningen1, W. J. Blok1, G. W. Korthals2 and A. H. C. van Bruggen1

A comparative study of 13 organic and 13 neighboring conventional arable farming systems was conducted in the Netherlands to determine the effect of management practices on chemical and biological soil properties and soil health.

Soils were analyzed using a polyphasic approach combining traditional soil analysis, culture-dependent and independent microbiological analyses, a nematode community analysis and an enquiry about different management practices among the farmers.

Organic management resulted in significantly lower levels of both nitrate and total soluble nitrogen in the soil, higher numbers of bacteria of different trophic groups, as well as larger species richness in both bacteria and nematode communities and more resilience to a drying-rewetting disturbance in the soil. All factors together indicating a higher level of soil health under organic management.

Köpke et al (Eds) (2005): Researching Sustainable Systems. Proceedings of the First Scientific Conference of the International Society of Organic Agriculture Research (ISOFAR). ISOFAR / IOL / FiBL, Bonn and Frick; ISBN 3-906081-76-1

Author Locations and Affiliations

(1) Biological Farming Systems Group, Wageningen University, Marijkeweg 22, 6709 PG Wageningen, Netherlands, Tel. 31-317-487201, E-mail wim.blok@wur.nl, Internet http://www.dpw.wau.nl/biob/
(2) Applied Plant Research PPO, Wageningen UR, Edelhertweg 1, 8219 PH Lelystad, Netherlands, Tel. 31-320-291111 , E-mail Gerard.korthals@wur.nl, Internet http://www.ppo.wur.nl/NL

Paper copy and PDF version may be ordered from FiBL (see FiBL shop at https://www.fibl.org/shop/index.php); FiBL order number 1394. A PDF version is available free of charge for ISOFAR members via the member area of www.isofar.org

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