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Effect of agro-industry by-product on soil fertility, tree performances and fruit quality in pear (Pyrus communis L.)

Department of Agricultural Sciences, University of Bologna, viale G. Fanin 46, 40127 Bologna, Italy

Organic materials from agro-industry processes can be used in agriculture as a way to recycle materials that still maintain a high fertilizing value. The aim of the experiment was to evaluate the value of soil applied apple juice by-product as fertilizer for pear trees. A 3-year experiment was carried out in a mature pear orchard (cv Abbé Fétel grafted onto quince MC) in the Po valley (Italy), where the following treatments were compared: 1) unfertilized control; 2) mineral N fertilization (60 kg N ha−1 year−1 split in two spring applications); 3) apple juice by-product (1.3 t ha−1 year−1, equal to 60 kg N ha−1), fully supplied at petal drop; 4) apple juice by-product, at twice the rate of the previous treatment. Apple juice by-product soil decomposition accounted for 12% in the first 6 months. At the end of the 24-month-assay, the decomposition accounted for 24% on total dry weight that makes 28% of initial C and 36% of initial N. Soil nitrate-N concentration was increased by the mineral N fertilizer, while the application of apple juice by-product increased microbial carbon. Tree growth, yield and fruit quality were not affected by treatments, while mineral N fertilization raised leaf and fruit N concentration. In conclusion, in our conditions the use of apple juice by-product did not show negative effects on tree performances and fruit quality, with some advantages related to the recycling of organic wastes in agriculture.
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Keywords fruit processing residues; soil organic matter; soil nitrate-N; soil microbial carbon; fruit analysis; antioxidant activity; soluble sugars; organic acids

Citation: Maurizio Quartieri, Elena Baldi, Giovambattista Sorrenti, Graziella Marcolini, Moreno Toselli. Effect of agro-industry by-product on soil fertility, tree performances and fruit quality in pear (Pyrus communis L.). AIMS Agriculture and Food, 2016, 1(1): 20-32. doi: 10.3934/agrfood.2016.1.20

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