Organic soils have more organic matter, higher diversity

Photo credit: NRCS Photo credit: NRCS

The use of manure is often cited as the reason organically managed soils have higher soil health than conventionally managed soils, but research out of Poland showed that organic systems have higher levels of multiple soil health components in comparison with conventionally managed soils, even when manure is not used on organic farms. Specifically, the researchers found that organic soils had 26 percent higher levels of soil particulate matter, higher bacteria and fungi biodiversity, more dehydrogenase and alkaline phosphatase activities, and more microbial biomass than conventionally managed soils. “Organically managed soils can maintain a high biological activity and substantial pools of readily available nitrogen even without application of animal manures,” researchers concluded.