Biologists Summarized 520 Studies and Found the Best Way to Fertilize the Soil
Manure has been used as a source of nutrients for plants since ancient times. However, until recently, no large-scale systematic analysis of this organic fertilizer has been conducted. A team of biologists (including several specialists from RUDN Unversity) reviewed over 500 prominent scientific works that covered the effect of manure on the quality of soils and provided systematically and statistically generalized data about manure fertilization.
“Despite the abundance of individual works, no generalized analysis of the effect of manure on different soil properties has been carried out yet. We analyzed 521 works that covered both single-time and continuous use of manure in short- and long-term (up to 113 years) field experiments. Our team also developed a concept of changes in biological processes under the influence of manure depending on climate factors and soil properties,” said Evgeniya Blagodatskaya, a Ph.D. in Biology and a senior researcher at the Center for Mathematical Modeling and Design of Sustainable Ecosystems at RUDN University.
When choosing the studies for their meta-analytical work, the team followed strict criteria. Each study had to contain accurate information about the source of the fertilizer and enzymes associated with carbon and nutrient cycles, have an unfertilized control lot, and provide different data and characteristics for statistical analysis. The meta-analysis covered different types of soils and climate zones with an average annual temperature from 10 to 20 ℃ and precipitation from 250 to 1,000 mm.
Besides the advantages of organic fertilizers, the team pointed out two risk factors that may occur if manure is not handled properly: pathogens and environmental pollution with greenhouse gases and nitrogen and phosphorus compounds. As a part of a well-designed strategy, manure fertilizers can solve many issues faced by the agricultural industry: reduce soil degradation and improve fertility, increase carbon reserves, accelerate the cycles of key elements, and make them available to plants.
The results of the study were published in the Science of The Total Environment journal
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