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soil health

#microbial community #soil-borne pathogens #plant health #root exudates #farming practice #beneficial inoculants

Duration: From Oct 1, 2018 until Jan 31, 2022
Region: Bernburg / Saxony-Anhalt (Anhalt University); Großbeeren/Brandenburg (IGZ)

About the Project:

The project aim is the investigation of the impact of long-term farming strategies on the soil microbiome and its function in terms of soil suppressiveness against plant pathogens.
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Project Aim

Microorganisms are involved in almost all soil processes and are essential for soil health / fertility, but due to a lack of knowledge of the influence of crop management practices on soil microbiome, they are hardly considered in current agricultural practices. The aim of the project is therefore to improve the understanding of the influence of management practices on the microbial community in the soil, also taking into account plant performance (growth, health). The focus of our work is to study the effect of applying a consortium consisting of beneficial microorganisms on the plant performance depending on agricultural management practices such as tillage, fertilization and catch crop cultivation under field conditions. Another focus in the 3rd project phase will be the coherent analysis of all data sets generated during the project phases by applying various statistical methods with the aim to identify microbial indicators (taxa and functions) that contribute to soil and plant health, which could be used for evaluation of different cultivation systems with respect to sustainability. Project results will be published in trade journal and will be presented to various interest groups.


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.