Implications of soil management practices and application of biocontrol strains on soil disease suppressiveness for improved soil health and sustainable plant production

Project number: 031A560A
Contact: Dr. Rita Grosch, Leibniz-Institute of Vegetable and Ornamental Crops (IGZ)
Project team: Leibniz-Institute of Vegetable and Ornamental Crops, Anhalt University of Applied Sciences, Julius Kühn–Institut, Center for Biotechnology, University Hohenheim, Helmholtz Zentrum München, European Center for Sustainability Research, Research Institute for Organic Agriculture, ABiTEP GmbH, SOURCON PADENA GmbH
Duration: 01/05/2015 – 30/04/2018


Project aim 

The project aim is the investigation of the impact of long-term farming strategies (intensive and extensive) on the soil microbiome and its function in terms of soil suppressiveness against plant pathogens. In addition, the associated rhizosphere microbiome will be analyzed considering plant characteristics (model: lettuce). 

Intensive farming strategies can result in substantial yield losses through accumulation of plant pathogens in soil and the occurrence of plant diseases. The ability of soils to suppress plant pathogens is a characteristic of soil quality and health. This ability is mediated to a large extent by the composition of the soil microbial community. A better understanding of how farming strategies affect soil properties such as the soil microbiome is key to proposing improved farming strategies for sustainable agriculture. 
Expected results 

We expect to gain new insight into soil and rhizosphere microbiomes, as well as their functions involved in soil disease suppressiveness. This knowledge will allow the evaluation of farming strategies for optimizing soil functions regarding certain bacterial and fungal taxa that demonstrate positive effects on soil health, especially on the suppression of pathogens. Finding indicators for soil suppressiveness will allow the evaluation and optimization of farming strategies. Root exudate components with consistent beneficial effects on plant growth and inhibitory effects on pathogens can open new perspectives for practical application. The socio-economic part of the research enlightens consequences and interpretations of political regulations in the field and delivers recommendations for bioenergy decision-making.