Early changes due to sorghum biofuel cropping systems in soil microbial communities and metabolic functioning

Cotton, J. and Acosta-Martínez, V. and Moore-Kucera, J. and Burow, G. (2012) Early changes due to sorghum biofuel cropping systems in soil microbial communities and metabolic functioning. Biology and Fertility of Soils. pp. 1-11.

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Abstract

Evaluation of biofuel production cropping systems should address not only energy yields but also the impacts on soil attributes. In this study, forage sorghum (Sorghum bicolor L. Moench) cropping systems were initiated on a low organic matter soil (<0.9 %) with a history of intensively tilled low-input cotton production in the semiarid Southern High Plains of the U.S. Sorghum cropping systems were evaluated in a split-plot design with sorghum cultivar as the main plot and the combination of irrigation level (non-irrigated and deficit irrigated) and aboveground biomass removal rate (50 % and 100 %) as the split plot. The sorghum cultivars used varied in yield potential and lignin content, which are important features for feedstock-producing crops. Within 1 year, the transition from long-term cotton cropping systems to sorghum biofuel cropping systems resulted in increased soil microbial biomass C (16 %) and N (17 %) and shifts in the microbial community composition as indicated by differences in fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) profiles. Additionally, enzyme activities targeting C, N, P and S cycles increased 15–75 % (depending on the enzyme) after two growing seasons. Increased enzyme activities (16–19 %) and differences in FAME profiles were seen due to irrigation regardless of aboveground biomass removal rate. Biomass removal rate and the cultivar type had little effect on the soil microbial properties during the time frame of this study. Early results from this study suggest improvements in soil quality and the sustainability of sorghum biofuel cropping for low organic matter agricultural soils.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Cropping systems – Soil enzyme activities – FAME analysis – Microbial biomass – Ogallala aquifer – Sorghum – Biofuels
Author Affiliation: USDA-ARS Cropping Systems Research Laboratory, Lubbock, TX 79415, USA, Department of Plant and Soil Science, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX 79409, USA
Subjects: Plant Production
Soil Science and Microbiology
Divisions: Sorghum
Depositing User: Mr. SanatKumar Behera
Date Deposited: 19 Sep 2012 08:45
Last Modified: 19 Sep 2012 08:45
Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00374-012-0732-z
URI: http://eprints.icrisat.ac.in/id/eprint/7981

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