Enhancing Soil Quality and Plant Health Through Suppressive Organic Amendments
Received: 26 November 2012 / Revised: 5 December 2012 / Accepted: 10 December 2012 / Published: 14 December 2012
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The practice of adding organic amendments to crop soils is undergoing resurgence as an efficient way to restore soil organic matter content and to improve soil quality. The quantity and quality of the organic matter inputs affect soil physicochemical properties and soil
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The practice of adding organic amendments to crop soils is undergoing resurgence as an efficient way to restore soil organic matter content and to improve soil quality. The quantity and quality of the organic matter inputs affect soil physicochemical properties and soil microbiota, influencing different parameters such as microbial biomass and diversity, community structure and microbial activities or functions. The influence of organic amendments on soil quality has also effects on crop production and plant health. The enhancement of soil suppressiveness using organic amendments has been widely described, especially for soil-borne diseases. However, there is great variability in the effectiveness of suppression depending on the nature of the amendment, the crop, the pathogen, and the environmental conditions. Although the effects of organic amendments on soil properties have been widely studied, relationships between these properties and soil suppressiveness are not still well understood. Changes in soil physicochemical parameters may modulate the efficacy of suppression. However, the parameters more frequently associated to disease suppression appear to be related to soil microbiota, such as microbial biomass and activity, the abundance of specific microbial groups and some hydrolytic activities. This review focuses on the effect of organic amendments on soil microbial populations, diversity and activities; their ability to enhance plant health through disease suppression; and which of the parameters affected by the organic amendments are potentially involved in soil suppressiveness.