Organic farming improves disease control by enhancing soil microbial communities with soil-building practices

Control of plant diseases is often accomplished with the use of harsh chemical sprays and soil fumigants in conventional farming systems, but a new study in PLOS ONE found that organic farming can improve crop health and provide the right kind of soil environment that reduces pathogen presence. Researchers studied carrots grown under both conventional and organic management and measured the amount and types of endophytic microbes (organisms that improve health and productivity of plants) in carrot taproots. They found that organic soils overall had more organic matter in the soil, which is known to support more beneficial micro-organisms, and indeed they also found more microbial biomass and activity in the organic soils. The endophytic microbes showed more immune-boosting activity when the carrots were slightly stressed in the organic soil, highlighting the importance of the environment in which the carrots were grown. The authors suggested that using soil-building practices that are commonly used in organic farming can help build the beneficial relationships between soil microbes that will improve crop health and yield.


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