Do Aboveground Crop Patches Indicate Belowground Microbial Hotspots?

Justin Lerma, Mandip Tamang, Orlando Garcia, Andrea Mota, Dr. Pushpa Soti, Department of Biology, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, 1201 W University Dr, Edinburg, TX 78539

The soil microbial community deeply affects soil sustainability and function through their role in the recycling of nutrients and carbon. The community of microbes in the soil are influenced by soil properties (such as pH and texture) and land use (such as cropping and soil tillage).  Soil management practices change the physical and chemical properties of the soil creating fluctuating environments for the soil microbial community. Intensive farming practices tend to reduce the species diversity of the soil microbes in agricultural fields. In semi-arid dryland farming systems, crop patches are generally common because of multiple factors such as variation in soil moisture, herbivory, and the redistribution of soil sediments, nutrients and propagules from the bare areas towards the plant clumps, where they contribute to improve soil properties, in turn favoring plant growth. This study investigates the patchy growth of cover crops in a dryland grain system in South Texas to determine the relationship between the difference in the microclimate resulting from the crop patches and the soil microbial community. An aerial image of a 40-acre field was collected with a UAV during November 2019 and the field was divided into multiple blocks based on the canopy cover of the plants. Soil samples from these blocks were randomly collected and analyzed for the soil nematode community, mycorrhizal fungi spores and soil organic matter. Currently we are in the process of analyzing the FPLA in the soil to determine the microbial types and abundance. This is an ongoing project and the results will be presented at the conference.  

Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Justin Lerma

Institution: University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

Type: Poster

Subject: Ecology

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 5
Date/Time: Tue 12:30pm-1:30pm
Session Number: 4111