Soil life is essential for nutrient cycling, carbon storage and disease suppressiveness, and organic agriculture holds the promise to manage soil organisms in a more durable manner than conventional farming. However, it is largely unknown how soil organisms are affected by organic farming practices. The availability of nematode taxon specific qPCR based assays, enabled us to pinpoint the impact of different farming strategies on the composition of nematode communities.
Research by Casper Quist (WU – Nematology), Maarten Schrama (NIOO – Terrestrial Ecology), and co-workers published in Applied Soil Ecology revealed the impact of three farming systems (conventional, integrated and organic; experimental farm managed by PPO Vredepeel)) on soil nematode community composition. Strongest effects were observed for the (putative) bacterivore Prismatolaimus, which was relatively common in Organic fields and nearly absent in fields under conventional and integrated management. A reverse effect was observed for Pristionchus, a necromenic bacterivore and facultative predator.
The observed farming system effects suggest that specific nematode taxa might be indicative for the impact of farming practices on soil biota.