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Effects of Cover Plants on Soil Biota: A Study in an Apple Orchard
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 Title & Authors
Effects of Cover Plants on Soil Biota: A Study in an Apple Orchard
Eo, Jin-U; Kang, Seok-Beom; Park, Kee-Choon; Han, Kyoung-Suk; Yi, Young-Keun;
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We aimed to investigate the responses of soil organisms to cover plants and to provide information for the selection of proper plant species. We studied the effects of 7 cover plants, including rye, oat, rattail fescue, Chinese milk vetch, red clover, crimson clover, and hairy vetch, on soil organisms in an apple orchard. An increase in the microbial phospholipid fatty acids (PLFA) and in the number of nematodes and microarthropods in the soil under the cover plants reflects elevated activities of soil organisms. A decrease in the level of some marker PLFA, which is an indicator of environmental stress, suggests that cover plants provide favorable environments for soil organisms. The population of fungi and animals that feed on fungi increased in the soil surface under red clover. The population density of nematodes and mites increased in the soil surface under rattail fescue, and that of mites and omnivorous nematodes increased in the soil surface under Chinese milk vetch. The level of microbial PLFA in the soil surfaces under the tested cover plants was higher than that under clean culture system. These results suggest that proper selection of the cover plants can facilitate the creation of favorable environments for soil organisms.
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