Microbiologicai treatments in organic maize production

Objectives of the research

Although production area of organic maize (included sweet corn, pop corn and maize sown for silage) is under 5000 hectares, this is the second most important crop to Hungarian organic farming after winter wheat.

Reduced livestock numbers also limits the amount of manure available for soil fertilization. There are several methods available as temporary substitutes; one is the microbiological conditioning of soil that is able to increase soil fertility. We tested microbiological soil treatments to investigate changes, possible yield increase in organic maize production.

 

Material and method

Effectiveness of soil conditioners on organic maize yield was tested using manufacturers recommended dose of treatments as well as technology: farmers sprayed the product directly on the soil then cultivated it in immediately. Spraying was accomplished with agriculture sprayer in all cases.

Crop estimations were done before harvest. During estimation, homogeneous sections were chosen from all surveyed plots with same length, yields of which were measured as the base of comparison.

Locations of the study

The study was run on three organic farms, two of them is in Békés County, one in Heves County. At each location, we tried to mark out homogeneous plots.

Tested plant conditioners

We used one-one bacterium based plant conditioner (marked with letters L and M) in non-irrigated fodder maize in Békés and Heves county (farms 1 and 2); three products were tested (marked with C, F and K) in irrigated sweet corn produced in after-seed, in Békés county (farm 3).

Mark of product

Source material (by its licence):

Expected effect according to the description

C

photosynthesing and lactic acid bacteria, yeast fungi, sugar cane, molasses By work of micro-organisms,rotting stops, decomposition happens by mostly fermentation.

F

Chlamydospores of T1 (NCAIM 68/2006) strain of Trichoderma asperellum antagonist fungus, hypha remnants of Trichoderma aspergillum fungus. Apart from direct destruction of phytopathogenic fungi infecting from the soil (Sclerotinia, Pythium, Fusarium, Phytophthora), it promotes healthy growing of the root system.

K

Azotobacter sp.Azospirillum sp.Pseudomonas fluorescens (bacteria)

Phanerochaete crysosporiumTrametes versicolor (fungi)

These micro-organisms promote decomposition of organic material, utilization of air nitrogen, mobilization of phosphorus being in soil.

L

Azospirillum chronococcumBacillus megaterium,Azospirillum brasiliense (bacteria) The bacteria produce on the average 50-60 kg nitrogen and make available 30-40 kg phosphorus per hectare.

M

Azotobacter chronococcumBacillus megaterium (bacteria) The bacteria produce 180 kg nitrogen, release 80 kg phosphorus (from compounds being unavailable for the plants) and mobilize 30 kg potassium.

 

Table 1: Description and mark of tested plant conditioners.

Results

  1. Farm 1 (Heves county): Non-irrigated fodder maize

Table 2: Data of production in farm 1

species / variety

Average yield of studied plot

t/ha

average yield by several years

t/ha (estimated)

genetic soil type

Previous crop

manuring

maize / Fiskas

2,2

4-6

Meadow soil

mix of oats and vetches

no

 

Yield of plot treated with bacterium based product marked with M was, by crop estimation, lower than check plot by 19 percent. Potentially, dry weather prevented sprayed bacteria from creating a positive effect on the yield. Yield difference being contrary with expected might also be caused by differences in soil and terrain, that were not analysed exactly.

  1. Farm II (Békés county): Not irrigated fodder maize

Yield of plot treated with bacterium based product marked with L was higher than check plot by 6 percent, which was a result to be expected. However, increase of yield is not high enough to rule out being caused by other circumstances besides the treatment.

Table 3: Data of production in farm 2

species / variety

Average yield of studied plot

t/ha

average yield by several years

t/ha (estimated)

genetic soil type

Previous crop

manuring

maize / Sarolta

4

7-8

chernozem

barley

Greensoil (3q/ha)

Farm III (Békés county): Irrigated sweet corn produced in after-seed

Three different microbiological products were tested (C, F, K).

Table 4: Data of production in farm 3

species / variety

Average yield of studied plot

t/ha

average yield by several years

t/ha (estimated)

genetic soil type

Previous crop

manuring

sweet corn / Royalty

11

10 – 15

Meadow soil

sweet corn (2011)

greenpeas (2012)

no

 

Results are shown in the following table:

Treatments Deviation compared to lowest* value (%)
F 100*
C 134
K 117

In irrigated sweet corn, there were no visible differences in plots treated with different products. However, crop estimation made by sampling do showed differences. We could compare only to treated check plot (F), untreated check plot was left out of consideration as it was much more heterogenious than treated ones. Compared to treatment F, both K and C product had positive effect. At case of treatment with C, difference by 34 percent is significant.

 

Summary and conclusion

Non-irrigated fodder maize was tested in two farms. Treatment caused a small increase at farm 2 and 19 percent decrease at farm 1. When evaluating results, it is important to note: research was made in one extremely dry year which may also have an effect on the operation of the products. In irrigated sweet corn, as compared to fungus based soil conditioner, bacterium based products increased yield, product marked with C caused significant increase. It is presumable that irrigation provided more suitable conditions for effectiveness of bacterium manures. In order to check our assumption and estimation of the products in a more rainy year, it is important to carry on the study and collect more data.

Mihály Földi– Dr. Péter Jakab

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