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Sam Pring

Effect of Tillage Radish on Mycorrhizal Density in a Regenerative Agriculture System



Sam Pring ’23


Jay KC

Faculty Mentor(s):

Mark Spiro, Biology

Funding Source:

Manning Intern Botanical Science, The Bucknell Farm


Traditional agriculture has become dependent on industrial methods, using heavy machines, fossil fuels and synthetic chemicals. However, due to the harm of these methods, a growing movement of regenerative agriculture is emerging. This approach takes advantage of the natural tendencies of organisms in the ecosystem to grow abundant nutritious crops, without the negative effects. The Bucknell Farm follows such a practice, with two main principles being no-till, and the usage of cover crops. Manual tilling in industrial farms loosen the soil to prep for the planting season but have also been shown to induce soil erosion. Cover crops are used to build organic matter, and to retain water in the fields. By planting non-harvested crops during the off-season, these plants help prevent nutrient and water losses. A common cover crop used is the tillage radish, which grows long roots that loosen the soil allowing subsequent crops to develop deeper root systems while using less energy. However, as a member of the Brassicaceae, tillage radish releases chemicals, isothiocyanates, that are known to inhibit the growth of mycorrhizae fungi. These fungi are known to be beneficial in farms, helping crops with water absorption and nutrient collection. Our research looks into whether the tillage radish affects mycorrhizal propagule count in the subsequent growing season. Using the Most Probable Number method (MPN) we investigate if the tillage radish reduces the mycorrhizae populations and if this reduction can be detrimental to the subsequent crop seen by reduced nutrient content.


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