Soil fertility in organic farming systems - fundamentally different?

E. A. Stockdale, M. A. Shepherd, S. Fortune, Steve P. Cuttle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

178 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Soil fertility is de®ned as the ability of a soil to provide the conditions required for plant growth. It is a result of the physical, chemical and biological processes that act together to provide nutrients, water, aeration and stability to the plant, as well as freedom from any substances that may inhibit growth. Within this de®nition, it is useful to distinguish between those components of fertility which change relatively slowly, perhaps over the course of a rotation, or in some cases, decades, and the more immediate contribution from materials such as fertilizers and manures. The term `inherent fertility' is used to describe these more stable characteristics, while recognising that they are, to a large extent, products of soil management. We conclude that, although nutrient management in organically managed soils is fundamentally different to soils managed conventionally, the underlying processes supporting soil fertility are not. The same nutrient cycling processes operate in organically farmed soils as those that are farmed conventionally although their relative importance and rates may differ. Nutrient pools in organically farmed soils are also essentially the same as in conventionally managed soils but, in the absence of regular fertilizer inputs, nutrient reserves in less-available pools will be of greater signi®cance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)301-308
Number of pages8
JournalSoil Use and Management
Volume18
Issue numberS1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2002

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