Organic soil amendments enhance soil nutrient availability

A study published in the journal Biological Agriculture & Horticulture assessed the effect of plant- and animal-based soil amendments on soil nutrient availability, soil respiration, crop yield, and phytochemical content on globe artichoke (Cynara cardunculus) heads.

  • Researchers used four certified organic fertilizers as experimental treatments.
    • Alfalfa meal
    • Blood meal
    • Chicken manure
    • Fish meal
  • Researchers assessed and compared the soil respiration and organic matter (OM) content of soil treated with plant-based fertilizer (alfalfa meal) and soil amended with animal-based fertilizers (blood meal, chicken manure, and fish meal).
  • After two years, soil respiration and OM was found to be higher in soil with plant-based amendments than soil with animal-based treatments, though the difference in OM between alfalfa and chicken manure was not statistically significant.
  • Artichoke heads grown in soil with alfalfa treatment were also found to have higher concentrations of phytochemicals than those grown in soil with animal-based fertilizers. However, the cost of the alfalfa meal was higher than that of the animal-based treatments.
  • Crop yield from soil treated with chicken manure was higher compared with alfalfa treatment. In the first year of the study, yields from both chicken manure and fish meal treatments were higher than the alfalfa treatment.

Researchers conclude that plant-based soil amendments can be an ideal choice for improving soil quality and phytochemical content of artichoke heads. However, for organic farmers whose main concerns are crop yield and overall cost, animal-based fertilizers may be the ideal option.

Learn more about the factors that affect crop yields at

Journal Reference:

Othman YA, Leskovar D. ORGANIC SOIL AMENDMENTS INFLUENCE SOIL HEALTH, YIELD, AND PHYTOCHEMICALS OF GLOBE ARTICHOKE HEADS. Biological Agriculture & Horticulture. 2018 Apr 16:1–10. DOI: 10.1080/01448765.2018.1463292

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