Soil enzymes (urease, invertase, acid and alkaline phosphatase) activity in the rhizosphere of field-grown tomato plants were used to monitor the impact of soil amendments (SA) and SA mixed with biochar on soil microbial activity four months after addition of amendments. The soil treatments were sewage sludge (SS); horse manure (HM); chicken manure (CM); vermicompost (worm castings); commercial inorganic fertilizer; commercial organic fertilizer; and no-mulch (NM) native soil used for comparison purposes. Soil treatments also were mixed with 10% (w/w) biochar to investigate the impact of biochar on soil enzymes activity. The results showed a significant increase in soil urease and invertase activities after incorporation of SA to native soil. Vermicompost and HM were superior in increasing urease and invertase activity four months after their addition to native soil. Alkaline phosphatase activity fluctuated among the soil treatments, revealing some obstruction of its activity. SS amended with biochar increased acid phosphatase activity by 115% four months after SS addition. Other than alkaline phosphatase, organic manure enhanced soil biological activity (microbial biomass and release of enzymes), indicating that the use of manures, rather than inorganic fertilizers, in crop production is an affordable and sustainable agricultural production system.
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