Mrs Jenendra Wadduwage1, Doctor Catriona Macdonald1, Doctor Hongwei Liu1, Professor Brajesh Singh1
1Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, University of Western Sydney, Richmond 2753, Australia
Impacts of Biostimulants on Soil Biological Properties and Nutrient Content of Wheat
Jenendra C. Wadduwage
PhD candidate. Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, University of Western Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
Doctor Catriona A. Macdonald
Senior Lecturer. Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, University of Western Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
Doctor Hongwei Liu
Research Fellow. Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, University of Western Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
Professor Brajesh K. Singh
Centre Director. Global Centre for Land-Based Innovation. Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, University of Western Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
Increasing agricultural productivity to improve food security while maintaining soil health is a global challenge. Given the increasing decline in soil health and a lack of productivity gain from further chemical inputs, new non-conventional sustainable farming approaches are required to increase the food production. Soil organic matter (SOM) provides the basis for healthy soils. Biostimulants are natural products derived from organic raw materials and/or microbial cultures that provide a promising alternative to sustainably maintain crop yield and potentially improve soil health including via increasing SOM levels. In this experiment we evaluated the impacts and mechanisms of two types of biostimulants, Converte universal plant food (UNP) and Converte seed primer (CSP) (https://www.converte.com.au) on soil key biological health indicators including soil respiration, enzyme activity, total C:N and wheat grain quantity and nutrient content. Soils were collected from two depths (0-10 and 10-20 cm) before harvest. Basal respiration was 38% and 57% greater in UNP treated soils compared to control and UNP+CSP treated soils respectively and significantly lower in the 10-20 cm soils compared to 0-10 cm soils. Catabolic diversity was greater in UNP+CSP treated soils compared to soils treated with UNP or CSP alone. Activity of C-associated enzymes in soils treated with UNP+CSP was significantly higher compared to UNP treated and control in the 0-10 cm soils. Bacterial abundance was 36% and 55% higher in UNP and UNP+CSP treatments respectively compared to control soils. Both UNP and CSP treatments significantly influenced the composition of soil microbial communities. Overall, the soil biological health parameters tested here responded positively to treatment and suggests that judicious use of biostimulants could simultaneously increase soil health and farm productivity.
Key words: biostimulants, soil organic matter, sustainability, microbial communities, soil functions.
Jenendra Wadduwage is PhD candidate in the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, University of Western Sydney, NSW, Australia. Her doctoral research investigates the impacts of biostimulants on soil biological, chemical and physical health parameters and crop yield. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka and a master’s degree in Agricultural Science in the field of Plant Protection from the University of Queensland, Australia. She worked as a research assistant in University of Queensland, Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation and Western Sydney University, Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment (HIE).