Response of cotton root growth and rhizosphere soil bacterial communities to the application of acid compost tea in calcareous soil
Applied Soil Ecology
Have you ever wondered about how your underwear affect the global ecosystem? Who hasn't??? Well thankfully there are scientists out there that care about these kinds of things. Specifically, the scientists in this study out of Shihezi University in Xinjiang China are looking at cotton and how its growth is affected by compost tea. Nearly 80% of China's cotton is grown in Xinjang, and in 2021 China grew more cotton than any other country, some 6.4 million tons. Talk about a great place to implement sustainable farming practices.
The research in this study was done on "calcareous" soils, simply put, soils high in calcium, which are typically also high in pH. The researchers wanted to know if an acidic compost tea would have a beneficial affect on plant growth by freeing up nutrition and modifying the soil microorganisms.
To make an acidic compost tea, organic chicken manure was mixed with a low pH solution of phosphoric acid. The compost tea ended up with a very low pH of 2.7. The cotton-science researchers applied this tea to cotton plants, comparing it to applications of a liquid organic fertilizer made from chicken manure, and to an unfertilized group of plants as well.
What did they find? Compost tea significantly promoted the growth and development of cotton roots, as well as led to a higher amount of beneficial bacteria present in the soil. The beneficial microbes in the tea were also correlated with higher amounts of available nutrients. If we sew it all together, we see that the low pH tea improved root growth while also improving the soil microbiota.
While this study did not go as far as to look at the yield of the cotton plants, it can be suggested that the bigger roots mean bigger fruits(-of-loom). Thanks to the intrepid scientists across the globe who are helping the world be more sustainable in our attire. Hats off to all of us.