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Photo of Michiel Op de Beeck

Michiel Op de Beeck


Photo of Michiel Op de Beeck

Rotation cropping and organic fertilizer jointly promote soil health and crop production


  • Yonglei Jiang
  • Jing Zhang
  • Delgado-baquerizo Manuel
  • Michiel Op De Beeck
  • Muhammad Shahbaz
  • Yi Chen
  • Xiaopeng Deng
  • Zhaoli Xu
  • Jian Li
  • Zhanfeng Liu

Summary, in English

Identifying field management practices to promote crop production, while conserving soil health is essential to maintain long-term food production in a changing world. Also, providing experimental evidence to support the use of traditional agricultural practices is necessary to secure sustainable agriculture. Here, we conducted a long-term 12-year experiment to investigate the impact of different combinations of fertilization type (control, inorganic fertilizer, organic fertilizer) and cropping regimes (continuous cropping and rotation cropping) on the crop (tobacco) production and multiple soil attributes associated with soil health, including proportions of soil-borne pathogens and decomposers, soil microbial diversity, microbial network stability and biomass, nutrient pools and microbial resource limitations. Our long-term experiment supports that the combination of organic fertilizer with rotation cropping increased crop production by at least 40% compared to the other management combinations and improved soil nutrient pools (e.g. the content of soil organic matter), improved the relative proportion of soil decomposers, and promoted bacterial and fungal network stability and biodiversity. Furthermore, this combination treatment relieved microbial resource limitation and reduced the abundance of potential fungal plant pathogens by at least 20% compared to other management combinations. In summary, we provide experimental evidence to support that the combined use of organic fertilization and rotation cropping management can help maintain long-term soil health, crop production, and economic outputs.


  • BECC: Biodiversity and Ecosystem services in a Changing Climate
  • Microbial Ecology
  • Centre for Environmental and Climate Science (CEC)

Publishing year





Journal of Environmental Management



Document type

Journal article




  • Soil Science
  • Ecology


  • Organic fertilizer
  • Rotation cropping
  • Soil nutrient pools
  • Microbial biodiversity
  • Network stability
  • Soil pathogen



Research group

  • Microbial Ecology


  • ISSN: 0301-4797