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Do permaculture’s perennial polycultures promote microbial soil-health?

Molen, R.R. van der (2015) Do permaculture’s perennial polycultures promote microbial soil-health? Bachelor's Thesis, Biology.

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Abstract

Some types of polycultures have been known to be able to increase crop production, pest resistance and overall agroecosystem stability. If important ecosystem services can be maintained and improved by increasing crop diversity, it is likely that some of these effects are measurable in the soil. Since many soil processes are performed by microbial actors, this thesis hypothesizes that polycropping should be measurable as an improvement of microbial indicators of soil-health, in particular microbial diversity and stress-resilience. To test this hypothesis, the literature was surveyed for studies that experimentally compare monoculture with polyculture yield, while keeping track of these soil-health indicators. Although insufficient studies were found for a definite answer, the studies that were found point in the same direction, so that a tentative answer can be formulated: selective crop diversity can lead to a healthier soil that is both more stable and more productive. Likely, some of the productivity improvements in polycultures are mediated by microbial factors, but more research is needed to make more confident statements on causality.

Item Type: Thesis (Bachelor's Thesis)
Degree programme: Biology
Thesis type: Bachelor's Thesis
Language: English
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2018 08:05
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2018 08:05
URI: http://fse.studenttheses.ub.rug.nl/id/eprint/12982

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