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Dairy manure goes urban
Date:6/23/2011

WIMAUMA, FLWhen natural ecosystems are replaced by roads, homes, and commercial structures, soil is negatively impacted. Studies have shown that, among other issues, distressed urban soils are often significantly compacted, may have alkaline pH, and may contain low amounts of essential organic matter and nutrients. This altered soil is typically not conducive to healthy plant root growth and establishment, leading to challenges for urban landscapes and home gardens.

"The management of urban soils often requires a different approach than is applied to natural or agricultural soils, but some management practices that are commonly used in agricultural systems have the potential to improve the quality of urban soils", explained Amy L. Shober, corresponding author of a new report from the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Science. Shober, along with graduate student Shawna Loper and their colleagues, designed a study to determine if the addition of compostwith or without the application of shallow tillage or aerationimproves soil properties and plant growth in simulated new residential landscapes.

According to the report published in HortScience, the researchers established 24 mixed landscape plots designed to simulate new residential landscapes. Each plot was constructed using 10 cm of subsoil fill material over a compacted field soil and planted with St. Augustine grass (Stenotaphrum secundatum) and mixed ornamental plant species.

The scientists applied composted dairy manure solids as an organic soil amendment at a depth of 5 cm in combination with two mechanical soil treatments (tillage to 15 cm and plug aeration), then assessed soil physical and chemical properties, plant growth and quality, and plant tissue nutrient concentrations to determine the effects of the different treatments.

The data showed that applications of compost significantly reduced soil density and pH and increased soi
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Contact: Michael W. Neff
mwneff@ashs.org
703-836-4606
American Society for Horticultural Science
Source:Eurekalert  

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