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Impact of long-term organic fertilizer on soil physical health of high tunnels in the Southern United States
Proceedings of the 2020 Mississippi Water Resources Conference

Year: 2020 Authors: Zhang Y., Feng G., Bi G., Yu S.

Soil health in agricultural production represents soil quality and productivity. Soil bulk density (BD), aggregates, particle size, porosity, saturated hydraulic conductivity, and field-saturated hydraulic conductivity (measured with the Guelph permeameter method) are important indicators of soil physical health. Previous studies show that compost and organic fertilizer can improve soil physical properties and reduce soil BD under high tunnels and outdoor conditions. However, a 3-year open-field study shows that different composts have different effects on soil physical properties (BD, aggregate stability, and saturated hydraulic conductivity). In addition, most studies are conducted in the open-field, or in pots and plots of the high tunnels. The environment between high tunnels and open field are quite different, which related to irrigation, fertilization, and weather conditions. The objectives of this study were: 1) using open-field soil as a control to determine whether the application of organic fertilizer affects soil BD, aggregate stability, particle size, porosity, total porosity and permeability in the high tunnels; and 2) to compare changes in soil physical health with the application years of organic fertilizer. The study quantified the effects of different application years of organic fertilizer on soil bulk density, aggregate stability, and permeability, which can provide fundamental guidance for growers to formulate fertilization systems to improve soil physical properties in the Southern United States.

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