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What Works in Conservation 2017

 | 
William J. Sutherland
, 
Lynn V. Dicks
, 
Nancy Ockendon
, 
et al.

8. ENHANCING SOIL FERTILITY

8.1 Reducing agricultural pollution

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Based on the collated evidence, what is the current assessment of the effectiveness of interventions to reduce agricultural pollution for enhancing soil fertility?

Unknown effectiveness (limited evidence)

● Change the timing of manure application

Likely to be ineffective or harmful

● Reduce fertilizer, pesticide or herbicide use generally

Unknown effectiveness (limited evidence)

Change the timing of manure application

  • One controlled, randomized, replicated, site comparison study from the UK found less nitrate was lost from the soil when manure application was delayed from autumn until December or January.

  • Soil types covered: sandy loam.

  • Assessment: unknown effectiveness (effectiveness 50%; certainty 33%; harms 24%).
    http://www.conservationevidence.com/​actions/​893

Likely to be ineffective or harmful

Reduce fertilizer, pesticide or herbicide use generally

  • Biodiversity: Two site comparison studies from Italy and Pakistan (one also replicated) found a higher diversity of soil invertebrates and microorganisms in low chemical-input systems.

  • Nutrient loss: One study from Canada found lower nutrient levels and yields in low-input systems.

  • Soil types covered: course sandy, loam, sandy loam, and silt.

  • Assessment: likely to be ineffective or harmful (effectiveness 26%; certainty 40%; harms 48%).
    http://www.conservationevidence.com/​actions/​904

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