Soil quality response to cover crops and amendment in a vineyard in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Messiga, A.J., Sharifi, M., Hammermeister, A.M., Gallant, K., Fuller, K.D., and Tango, M. (2015). "Soil quality response to cover crops and amendment in a vineyard in Nova Scotia, Canada.", Scientia Horticulturae, 188, pp. 6-14. doi : 10.1016/j.scienta.2015.02.041  Access to full text


The effects of cover crop mixtures combined with organic and industrial wastes on selected soil properties were assessed in a vineyard in Eastern Canada. The experimental treatments were randomly arranged in a nested design with three replicates. Four alleyway cover crop mixtures [control with no cover crop (CONT), oats + pea + hairy vetch (OPV), oats underseeded with red clover (ORCl), and timothy + alsike + red clover (TM)] were applied to main plots. Five fertility treatments [fertilizer without N (NDEF), full synthetic fertilizer (FERT), wood ash (WA), municipal solid food waste (MSFW), and mussel sediment (MS)] were assigned to sub-plots. Changes in selected soil quality (0–15 cm) were assessed at the beginning of the growing season (May 9, 2011 and April 28, 2012), at bloom in early-July (July 06, 2011 and 2012), and at harvest in late-October (October 31, 2011 and October 20, 2012). At bloom, soil mineral N was 23.56 kg ha-1 for OPV and 20.68 kg ha-1 for ORCl, but only 16.38 kg ha-1for CONT and 12.53 kg ha-1 for TM. At harvest, soil mineral N was 21.95 kg ha-1 for ORCl, but only 15.43 kg ha-1for OPV and TM and 9.10 kg ha-1 for CONT. Soil mineral N was mainly in the form of NO3−–N until bloom, but at harvest majority of soil mineral N was consisted of NH4+–N. After one year of experiment, the three organic and industrial amendments maintained greater soil pH (7.34 for MSFW and 7.35 for WA) and Mehlich-3 extractable P (399 kg PM3 ha-1 for MSFW and 333 kg PM3 ha-1 for WA) compared with FERT (pH 7.17; 306 kg PM3 ha-1) and NDEF (pH 7.12; 288 kg PM3 ha-1) treatments. After two years of experiment, the combination of cover crop × amendment improved soil organic-C by 8.8% and 10.6% and -N by 8.1% and 9.8% compared with amendment alone and cover crop × FERT treatment, respectively. Potentially mineralizable N estimated by UV-absorbance of NaHCO3 extraction was greater under ORCl (0.79 abs) compared with the other cover crops (0.69 abs). The microbial biomass C was 205 kg ha-1 under MSFW and 212 kg ha-1 under WA, but only 168 kg ha-1 under NDEF, 125 kg ha-1 under FERT. The combination of cover crops and organic or industrial wastes provide comparable soil mineral N supply and available P with fertilized treatments while improving soil physical and biological properties and overall soil quality in this vineyard production system.

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