Soil Health Assessment of Two Regenerative Farming Practices on Sandy Soils

  •  Nan Xu    
  •  Jehangir H. Bhadha    
  •  Abul Rabbany    
  •  Stewart Swanson    


The addition of organic amendments and cover cropping on sandy soils are regenerative farming practices that can potentially enhance soil health. South Florida mineral soils present low soil quality due to their sandy texture and low organic matter (OM) content. Few studies have focused on evaluating the effects of farm-based management regenerative practices in this region. The objective of this study was to evaluate changes in soil properties associated with two regenerative farming practices - horse bedding application in combination with cover cropping (cowpea, Vigna unguiculata), compared to the practice of cover cropping only for two years. The soil quality indicators that were tested included soil pH, bulk density, water holding capacity, cation exchange capacity, OM, active carbon, soil protein and major nutrients (N, P, K). Results indicated no significant changes in soil pH, but a significant reduction in soil bulk density and a significant increase in maximum water holding capacity for both practices. Cation exchange capacity and the amounts of active carbon increased significantly after 1.5-year of the farming practices. Horse bedding application with cover cropping showed a significant 4% increase in OM during a short period. A significant increase in plant-available P was also observed under these two practices. Based on this study, horse bedding application as an organic amendment in conjunction with cover cropping provides an enhanced soil health effect compared to just cover cropping. As local growers explore farming option to improve soil health particularly during the fallow period using regenerative farming practices on sandy soils, these results will assist in their decision making.

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