A six-year study was carried out in an organically managed orange orchard located in Sicily (Southern Italy) to assess the effect of compost and organic fertilizers utilisation on soil quality. Adopting a randomized-block experimental design with three replicates, four treatments were carried out. In treatments 1 and 2, two different composts (C1 from distillery by products and C2 from livestock wastes) were applied. The plots of treatment 3 were fertilized using dried poultry manure. The control treatment was fertilized with mineral/synthetic fertilizers. In order to verify the hypothesis that composts and organic fertilizers improve soil fertility, soil quality was evaluated by selecting dynamic soil parameters, as indicators linked to C and N cycles. Total organic C, total N, C/N ratio, humified fraction, isoelectric focusing (IEF) of extracted organic matter, microbial biomass C, potentially mineralisable N under anaerobic conditions, potenzially mineralizable C, C mineralization quotient and metabolic quotient were determined for each sample. Furthermore, the Comunity level Physiological Profile (by Biolog tecnique) was defined, calculating derived functional biodiversity and versatility indexes. Parameters related to IEF and potentially mineralizable C showed significant differences among the treatments. Moreover, total C, total N and humification parameters tended to increase, while no differences were observed in biodiversity indexes. On these findings, it was concluded that composts and poultry manure only weakly affected soil properties, though they increased soil nutritive elements potentially available to crops
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