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- Author or Editor: Lauren Lindsey x
Organic fertilization techniques have become an attractive alternative to conventional techniques, but there remains interest in their impact on rhizosphere ecology. This study was aimed at assessing the impacts of various organic fertilizer amendments on storage root yield, chemical, biochemical, and microbial factors in the rhizosphere ecosystem and the bacterial community composition in the rhizosphere ecosystem. Four sweetpotato cultivars (J6/66, NCC-58, TU Purple, and Whatley/Loretan) and four organic fertilizer treatments [poultry litter, Megabloom (fish protein), NPK, and an untreated control] were used in the study. The experiments were conducted as a randomized complete block design with a 4 × 4 factorial treatment arrangement and three replications. Fertilizer treatments were split-applied at the rate of 134–67–67 kg·ha−1 NPK equivalent based on soil test recommendations 1 and 4 weeks after planting as single bands 15 cm from the plants and organic amendments were calculated based on total N content. Rhizosphere soil samples were collected at harvest and analyzed for soil pH, soil organic carbon (SOC), bacterial 16S rDNA, and selected soil enzymes. Organic amendments did not affect storage root yield or percent dry matter but enhanced both the mass and number of US#1 storage roots. Rhizosphere pH varied depending on cultivar and cultivar response varied with pH and ranged from 6.1 to 6.8, whereas SOC was similar regardless of the amendment. The impact of fertilizers was evident as Megabloom (fish protein) treatment suppressed the relative abundance (RA) of nitrifiers (Nitrosococcus and Nitrosomonadaceae). Also, the rhizosphere of ‘Whatley/Loretan’ seemed to have been a beneficial habitat for populations of common nitrogen-fixing bacteria Bradyrhizobium elkanii, and Rhodospirillaceae sp. as their RA increased significantly in the rhizosphere. That bacteria associated with carbon and nitrogen cycling under aerobic conditions were found to be ubiquitous in the rhizosphere of sweetpotato, suggesting that certain amendments positively impacted the populations of nitrogen-cycling bacteria, thus making them a viable alternative to NPK when considering increasing or sustaining yield while promoting long-term soil health.