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Lasting effect of repeated application of organic waste products on microbial communities in arable soils

S. Sadet-Bourgeteau (a), S. Houot (b), S. Dequiedt (c), V. Nowak (a), V. Tardy (a), S. Terrat (a), D. Montenach (d), V. Mercier (b), B. Karimi (a), N. Chemidlin Prévost-Bouré (a), P.A. Maron (a)

Sadet-Bourgeteau & al., 2018
Sadet-Bourgeteau & al., Applied Soil Ecology Volume 125, April 2018, Pages 278-287

Intensive agricultural practices contribute to a decrease in soil organic matter content, with negative consequences on soil fertility [1]. One way to reverse this degradation in soil fertility is to increase soil organic matter content by applying organic amendments [2] which at the same time could contribute to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and thus indirectly climate change [3]. Among the different organic inputs, organic waste products (OWP) resulting from human activity are being increasingly used because they facilitate the recycling of nutrients and improve soil fertility. Yet, OWP application changes soil physico-chemical properties [4] and consequently impact the soil microbial communities. The objective was to study the lasting effect on soil microbial communities of repeated OWP application over several years.

Main results

Previous research suggests that a single OWP application has a transient impact on the abundance and diversity of soil microbial communities[5]. However, it was observed that repeated fertilization over several years, a commonly used practice under field conditions to maintain soil fertility and thus crop yields, had more persistent impact on soils characteristics [6] and microbial diversity and activity[7,8]. So, the lasting effect on soil microbial communities of repeated OWP application over several years needs further investigation. In this study, the effects of OWP on soil prokaryotic and fungal communities were assessed on two long-term fields experiments (QualiAgro and PROspective). Different types of OWP characterized by more or less stable organic matter had been applied for more than 10 years. At QualiAgro, the carbon inputs due to OWP application were greater (∼4tCha−1 every two years) than at PROspective (∼1.7 t C ha−1 every two years). On both sites, soil samples were taken more than six months after the last OWP input. At QualiAgro, soil organic carbon, N and P2O5 concentrations, pH, and CEC were increased by repeated OWP inputs, as compared to the control. Soil microbial community parameters were also lastingly affected by OWP application. A 50% increase in microbial biomass was observed with OWP with the most stable organic matter contents (Figure 1).

Fig.1 Sadet-Bourgeteau 2018

Figure 1: Effect of different organic waste products on soil microbial biomass from QualiAgro (A) and PROspective (B).

The prokaryotic community structure was influenced: directly by the OWP applied, and indirectly by soil properties changes. Soil pH appeared as a major driver for structure of the soil prokaryotic community. Fungal community structure was only directly influenced by the OWP applied. Contrastingly, at PROspective, OWP application had no impact on soil chemical characteristics or microbial communities’ parameters. This was probably due to the smaller amount of OWP applied than at QualiAgro, and/or a longer delay between the OWP application and soil sampling. Altogether, our results show that, depending on its type, the applied OWP could produce a lasting increase in soil microbial biomass and shape microbial community structure.


1. Tate, R.L., 1987. Soil Organic Matter: Biological and Ecological Effects, New York, USA.

2. Peltre, C., Christensen, B.T., Dragon, S., Icard, C., Kätterer, T., Houot, S., 2012. RothC simulation of carbon accumulation in soil after repeated application of widely different organic amendments. Soil Biol. Biochem. 52, 49–60.

3. Lal, R., 2004. Soil carbon sequestration to mitigate climate change. Geoderma 123, 1–22.

4. Chalhoub, M., Garnier, P., Coquet, Y., Mary, B., Lafolie, F., Houot, S., 2013. Increased nitrogen availability in soil after repeated compost applications: use of the PASTIS model to separate short and long-term effects. Soil Biol. Biochem. 65, 144–157.

5. Bastida, F., Hernández, T., Albaladejo, J., García, C., 2013. Phylogenetic and functional changes in the microbial community of long-term restored soils under semiarid climate. Soil Biol. Biochem. 65, 12–21.

6. Körschens, M., Albert, E., Armbruster, M., Barkusky, D., Baumecker, M., Behle-Schalk, L., Bischoff, R., Čergan, Z., Ellmer, F., Herbst, F., 2013. Effect of mineral and organic fertilization on crop yield, nitrogen uptake, carbon and nitrogen balances, as well as soil organic carbon content and dynamics: results from 20 European long-term field experiments of the twenty-first century. Arch. Agron. Soil Sci. 59, 1017–1040.


a INRA, UMR, 1347 Agroecologie, AgroSup Dijon, Dijon, France

b INRA, UMR, 1402 Ecosys Ecologie fonctionnelle et Ecotoxicologie des agroécosystèmes, Thiverval-Grignon, France

c INRA, Genosol Plateform, Dijon, France

d INRA, UE 0871 Service d'expérimentation Agronomique et Viticole, Colmar, France