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Soil Microbial Community Responses To Dairy Manure Or Ammonium Nitrate Applications

A. Peacock, M. D. Mullen, D. Ringelberg, D. Tyler, D. Hedrick, P. M. Gale, D. White
Published 2001 · Biology

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Abstract Soil management practices that result in increased soil C also impact soil microbial biomass and community structure. In this study, the effects of dairy manure applications and inorganic N fertilizer on microbial biomass and microbial community composition were determined. Treatments examined were a control with no nutrient additions (CT), ammonium nitrate at 218 kg N ha−1 (AN), and manure N rates of 252 kg manure-N ha−1 (LM) and 504 kg manure-N ha−1 (HM). All plots were no-till cropped to silage corn (Zea mays, L. Merr) followed by a Crimson clover (Trifolium incarnatum, L.)/annual ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum, Lam.) winter cover crop. Treatments were applied yearly, with two-thirds of the N applied in late April or early May, and the remainder applied in September. Soil samples (0–5, 5–10, and 10–15 cm) were taken in March 1996, prior to the spring nutrient application. Polar lipid fatty acid (PLFA) analysis was used to assess changes in microbial biomass and community structure. Significantly greater soil C, N and microbial biomass in the 0–5 cm depth were observed under both manure treatments than in the CT and AN treatments. There was also a definable shift in the microbial community composition of the surface soils (0–5cm). Typical Gram-negative bacteria PLFA biomarkers were 15 and 27% higher in the LM and HM treatments than in the control. The AN treatment resulted in a 15% decrease in these PLFA compared with the control. Factor analysis of the polar lipid fatty acid profiles from all treatments revealed that the two manure amendments were correlated and could be described by a single factor comprised of typical Gram-negative bacterial biomarkers. The AN treatments from all three depths were also correlated and were described by a second factor comprised of typical Gram-positive bacterial biomarkers. These results demonstrate that soil management practices, such as manuring, that result in accumulations of organic carbon will result in increased microbial biomass and changes in community structure.
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