Organic amendment effects on tuber yield and quality, plant N uptake and soil mineral N under organic potato production.
Lynch, D.H., Zhong, Z., Zebarth, B.J., and Martin, R.C. (2008). "Organic amendment effects on tuber yield and quality, plant N uptake and soil mineral N under organic potato production.", Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, 23(3), pp. 250-259. doi : 10.1017/S1742170508002330
The market for certified organic potatoes in Canada is growing rapidly, but the productivity and dynamics of soil N under commercial organic potato systems remain largely unknown. This study examined, at two sites in Atlantic Canada (Winslow, PEI, and Brookside, NS), the impacts of organic amendments on Shepody potato yield, quality and soil mineral nitrogen dynamics under organic management. Treatments included a commercial hog manure-sawdust compost (CP) and pelletized poultry manure (NW) applied at 300 and 600 kg total N ha-1, plus an un-amended control (CT). Wireworm damage reduced plant stands at Brookside in 2003 and those results are not presented. Relatively high tuber yields (~30 Mg ha-1) and crop N uptake (112 kg N ha-1) were achieved for un-amended soil in those site-years (Winslow 2003 and 2004) when soil moisture was non-limiting. Compost resulted in higher total yields than CT in one of three site-years. Apparent recovery of N from CP was negligible; therefore CP yield benefits were attributed to factors other than N availability. At Winslow, NW300, but not NW600, significantly increased total and marketable yields by an average of 5.8 and 7.0 Mg ha-1. Plant available N averaged 39 and 33% for NW300 and NW600, respectively. Soil (0-30 cm) NO3--N at harvest was low (<25 kg N ha-1) for CT and CP, but increased substantially both in season and at harvest (61-141 kg N ha-1) when NW was applied. Most leaching losses of NO3--N occur between seasons and excessive levels of residual soil NO3N at harvest, as obtained for NW600, must be avoided. Given current premiums for certified organic potatoes, improving yields through application of amendments supplying moderate rates of N or organic matter appears warranted.