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product ( Illera-Vives et al., 2015 ; Sembera et al., 2018 ). Composting is the natural process of breaking down organic matter into a usable, waste-free product, and it is increasingly used as a waste management system ( Sanders et al., 2011 ). Compost

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systems, cultivated muck soils may subside up to 3 cm every year because of wind erosion, compaction, and organic matter oxidation ( Hoffmann et al., 1996 ). A cover crop planted after harvest of the cash crop may help reduce soil erosion and compaction

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organic matter and ash that remains after organic matter is thermally decomposed in a low-oxygen environment ( Lehmann and Joseph, 2009 ). Biochar addition has been shown to impart beneficial chemical and physical attributes to mineral soils ( Barrow, 2012

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tillage or herbicides. Although effective, herbicides and excessive tillage lead to environmental issues such as herbicide-resistant weeds ( Chatham et al., 2015 ) and reduced soil organic matter ( Reicosky et al., 1995 ). Cover crops are an alternative to

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successful: 1) planting in pine bark beds ≈6 to 8 inches deep with overhead irrigation, 2) planting in high organic matter (greater than 3%) spodic-type or allied sand soil series, and 3) planting in sand or loamy sand soils and amending the soil with pine

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plasma atomic emission spectrophotometry [ICP-AES (Spectro; Ametek Materials Analysis Division, Kleve, Germany)], organic matter content from loss on ignition, and wet aggregate stability according to the Cornell Soil Health Test ( Gugino et al., 2009

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An important aspect of organic farming is to minimize the detrimental impact of human intervention to the surrounding environment by adopting a natural protocol in system management. Traditionally, organic farming has focused on the elimination of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides and a reliance on biological cycles that contribute to improving soil health in terms of fertility and pest management. Organic production systems are ecologically and economically sustainable when practices designed to build soil organic matter, fertility, and structure also mitigate soil erosion and nutrient runoff. We found no research conducted under traditional organic farming conditions, comparing bareground monoculture systems to systems incorporating the use of living mulches. We will be focusing on living mulch studies conducted under conventional methodology that can be extrapolated to beneficial uses in an organic system. This article discusses how organic farmers can use living mulches to reduce erosion, runoff, and leaching and also demonstrate the potential of living mulch systems as comprehensive integrated pest management plans that allow for an overall reduction in pesticide applications. The pesticide reducing potential of the living mulch system is examined to gain insight on application within organic agriculture.

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In-season soil nitrate testing is most useful when there is reason to believe, based on field history, that N availability may be adequate. These reasons may include soil organic matter content, applied manure, compost, legumes in the rotation, or residual N fertilizer. Soil nitrate testing is not helpful when crops are grown on sandy, low organic matter content soils that are known from experience to be N deficient. Soil nitrate testing is useful for annual crops such as vegetables or corn for which supplemental N fertilization is a concern. Soil nitrate tests must be performed at critical crop growth stages, and the results must be obtained rapidly to make important decisions about the need for N fertilization. Soil nitrate-N (NO3-N) concentrations in the range of 25 to 30 mg·kg-1 (ppm) indicate sufficiency for most crops, but N fertilizer practice should be adjusted based on local extension recommendations.

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Compost is organic matter that has undergone partial thermophilic, aerobic decomposition. This environmentally safe process is called composting. The combination of raw materials and the chosen composting method yields a wide range of characteristics, such as organic matter (OM) content, nutrient content, potential for disease suppressiveness and other physical, chemical, and biological properties. The objectives of this review are describing the horticultural outlets for composts, defining compost characteristics important for the above uses, and describing composting procedures and raw materials leading to these characteristics. The two main horticultural uses of composts are as soil amendment and as an ingredient in container media. Soil-applied composts improve soil fertility mainly by increasing soil organic matter (SOM) that activates soil biota. Compost's nutrient content, and especially that of nitrogen (N), should be high (>1.8%). Composts having these characteristics are produced of raw materials rich in both OM and N, while minimizing their loss during composting. Typical raw materials for this purpose include animal manures, offal, abattoir residues, sewage sludge, and grass clippings. Various composting methods can yield the required results, including turned windrows, aerated static piles, and in-vessel composting. Composts are also used for substrates as low-cost peat substitute, potentially suppressive against various soilborne diseases. These composts must be stable and non-phytotoxic. Physical properties of compost used as substrate are important. Hydraulic conductivity, air porosity, and available water should be high. Reconciling the physical and biological demands may be difficult. Materials such as softwood bark, wood shavings, various types of shells or hulls, and coconut coir are characterized by good physical properties after composting. However, being relatively resistant to decomposition, these materials should be subjected to long and well-controlled composting, which may be shortened using N and N-rich organic matter such as animal manures. High temperatures [>65 °C (149.0 °F)] may cause ashing, which leads to reduced porosity. In addition to ligneous materials, composts serving as growing media may be produced from numerous organic wastes, such as manures, food industry wastes, etc. These materials are better composted in aerated static piles, which tend to minimize physical breakdown. Animal excreta are of special value for co-composting as they contain large, diverse populations of microorganisms, which accelerate the process.

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removed monthly from each plot, saturated via capillarity in a soaking tray and transferred to an integrated constant and falling hydraulic head permeameter (ASTM D2434; METER Group Inc., Munich, Germany), which used the falling head method. Organic matter

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