Preliminary Evaluation of Seaweed Application Effects on Soil Quality and Yield of Sweet Corn (Zea mays L.)

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The practice of applying seaweed to agricultural fields may provide plant nutrients and improve soil quality in coastal agroecosystems, but little is known about its effects on soil properties or crop production. We conducted a preliminary evaluation of changes in soil biological and chemical properties and sweet corn (Zea mays L.) production using seaweed as a partial source of nitrogen (N) (40–55%) for one growing season, using a preformulated organic fertilizer treatment for comparison. Soil electrical conductivity, potassium (K+), sulfate (SO42-), and active carbon (C) increased with seaweed addition relative to the organic fertilizer, whereas potentially mineralizable N and pH decreased, with effects varying over time. Sweet corn yield and quality were either equivalent to that with the organic fertilizer or improved. The short-term positive (e.g., increased active C) and negative (e.g., increased salt levels) effects on soil quality suggest further evaluation of this practice is justified.

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Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis