• Effect of organic, conventional and mixed cultivation practices on soil microbial community structure and nematode abundance in a cultivated onion crop

      Reilly, Kim; Cullen, Eileen; Lola-Luz, Theodora; Stone, Dote; Valverde, Juan; Gaffney, Michael; Brunton, Nigel; Grant, Jim; Griffiths, Bryan; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; et al. (Wiley, 07/06/2013)
      BACKGROUND: Responses of the soil microbial and nematode community to organic and conventional agricultural practices were studied using the Teagasc Kinsealy Systems Comparison trial as the experimental system. The trial is a long term field experiment which divides conventional and organic agriculture into component pest-control and soil treatment practices. We hypothesised that management practices would affect soil ecology and used community level physiological profiles (CLPP), microbial and nematode counts, and denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) to characterise soil microbial communities in plots used for onion (Allium cepa L.) cultivation. RESULTS: Microbial activity and culturable bacterial counts were significantly higher under fully organic management. Culturable fungi, actinomycete and nematode counts showed a consistent trend towards higher numbers under fully organic management but these data were not statistically significant. No differences were found in the fungal/bacterial ratio. DGGE banding patterns and sequencing of excised bands showed clear differences between treatments. Putative onion fungal pathogens were predominantly sequenced under conventional soil treatment practices whilst putative soil suppressive bacterial species were predominantly sequenced from the organic pest-control treatment plots. CONCLUSION: Organic management increased microbial activity and diversity. Sequence data was indicative of differences in functional groups and warrants further investigation.
    • Variation in bioactive content in broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. italica) grown under conventional and organic production systems

      Valverde, Juan; Reilly, Kim; Villacreces, Salvador; Gaffney, Michael; Grant, Jim; Brunton, Nigel; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; 06/NITAFRC6 (Wiley on behalf of Society of Chemical Industry, 30/07/2014)
      BACKGROUND Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables contain a number of bioactive compounds, in particular glucosinolates and polyphenols, which are proposed to confer health benefits to the consumer. Demand for organic crops is at least partly based on a perception that organic crops may contain higher levels of bioactive compounds; however, insufficient research has been carried out to either support or refute such claims. RESULTS In this study we examined the effect of conventional, organic, and mixed cultivation practices on the content of total phenolics, total flavonoids, and total and individual glucosinolates in two varieties of broccoli grown over 2 years in a split-plot factorial systems comparison trial. Levels of total phenolics and total flavonoids showed a significant year-on-year variation but were not significantly different between organic and conventional production systems. In contrast, levels of the indolyl glucosinolates glucobrassicin and neoglucobrassicin were significantly higher (P < 0.05) under fully organic compared to fully conventional management. CONCLUSION Organic cultivation practices resulted in significantly higher levels of glucobrassicin and neoglucobrassicin in broccoli florets; however, other investigated compounds were unaffected by production practices.