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Article

Natural Farming Improves Soil Quality and Alters Microbial Diversity in a Cabbage Field in Japan

1
Key Laboratory of Urban Agriculture (South), Ministry of Agriculture, School of Agriculture and Biology, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai 200240, China
2
International Nature Farming Research Center, Matsumoto, Nagano 390-1401, Japan
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2019, 11(11), 3131; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11113131
Received: 5 May 2019 / Revised: 26 May 2019 / Accepted: 29 May 2019 / Published: 3 June 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Sustainable Agriculture)
Natural farming (NF), an environmentally friendly agricultural practice similar to organic farming, was developed in Japan. Unlike conventional farming, little is known about the influence of NF on soil microbial communities, especially the surface soil. We therefore compared the effect of seven years’ conventional practice (CP), conventional practice without chemicals (CF), and NF on soil properties and microbial community structure at two soil depths (0–10, 10–20 cm) in an experimental cabbage field. Both soil depth and agricultural practice significantly influenced edaphic measures and microbial community structure. NF improved bulk density, pH, electrical conductivity, urease activity, and nitrate reductase activity in topsoil; similar trends were observed in deeper soil. Pyrosequencing demonstrated that the use of pesticides in conventional farming (CP) led to lower microbial abundance and diversity in topsoil than CF. Similarly, NF increased microbial abundance compared to CP. However, distinct taxa were present in the topsoil, but not deeper soil, in each treatment. CP-enriched microbial genera may be related to plant pathogens (e.g., Erwinia and Brenneria) and xenobiotic degraders (e.g., Sphingobacterium and Comamonas). The microbial community structure of NF was distinct to CP/CF, with enrichment of Pedomicrobium and Solirubrobacter, which may prefer stable soil conditions. Network analysis of dominant genera confirmed the more stable, complex microbial network structure of the 0–10 cm than 10–20 cm layer. Flavisolibacter/Candidatus Solibacter and Candidatus Nitrososphaera/Leuconostoc are potentially fundamental taxa in the 0–10 cm and 10–20 cm layer networks, respectively. Overall, we show that NF positively affects soil quality and microbial community composition within sustainable farming systems. View Full-Text
Keywords: agricultural practice; sustainability; bulk soil; bacterial community structure; pyrosequencing; natural farming agricultural practice; sustainability; bulk soil; bacterial community structure; pyrosequencing; natural farming
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MDPI and ACS Style

Liao, J.; Xu, Q.; Xu, H.; Huang, D. Natural Farming Improves Soil Quality and Alters Microbial Diversity in a Cabbage Field in Japan. Sustainability 2019, 11, 3131. https://doi.org/10.3390/su11113131

AMA Style

Liao J, Xu Q, Xu H, Huang D. Natural Farming Improves Soil Quality and Alters Microbial Diversity in a Cabbage Field in Japan. Sustainability. 2019; 11(11):3131. https://doi.org/10.3390/su11113131

Chicago/Turabian Style

Liao, Jianli, Qicong Xu, Huilian Xu, and Danfeng Huang. 2019. "Natural Farming Improves Soil Quality and Alters Microbial Diversity in a Cabbage Field in Japan" Sustainability 11, no. 11: 3131. https://doi.org/10.3390/su11113131

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