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Residues from black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens) larvae rearing influence the plant-associated soil microbiome in the short term
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The larvae of the black soldier fly (BSFL, Hermetia illucens) efficiently close resource cycles. Next to the nutrient-rich insect biomass used as animal feed, the residues from the process are promising plant fertilizers. Besides a high nutrient content, the residues contain a diverse microbial community and application to soil can potentially promote soil fertility and agricultural production through the introduction of beneficial microbes. This research assessed the application of the residues on plant-associated bacterial and fungal communities in the rhizosphere of a grass-clover mix in a 42-day greenhouse pot study. Potted soil was amended with BSFL residues (BR+) or conventional compost (CC+) produced by Rwandan waste management companies in parallel to residues and compost sterilized (BR-, CC-) by high-energy electron beam (HEEB) as abiotic controls. The fertilizers were applied at a rate of 150 kg N ha−1. Soil bacterial and fungal communities in both fertilizer and soil were assessed by high-throughput sequencing of ribosomal markers at different times after fertilizer application. Additionally, indicators for soil fertility such as basal respiration, plant yield and soil physicochemical properties were analyzed. Results showed that the application of BSFL residues influenced the soil microbial communities, and especially fungi, stronger than CC fertilizers. These effects on the microbial community structure could partly be attributed to a potential introduction of microbes to the soil by BSFL residues (e.g., members of genus Bacillus) since untreated and sterilized BSFL residues promoted different microbial communities. With respect to the abiotic effects, we emphasize a potential driving role of particular classes of organic matter like fiber and chitin. Indeed, especially taxa associated with decomposition of organic matter (e.g., members of the fungal genus Mortierella) were promoted by the application of BSFL residues. Soil fertility with respect to plant yield (+17% increase compared to unamended control) and basal respiration (+16% increase compared to unamended control) tended to be improved with the addition of BSFL residues. Findings underline the versatile opportunities for soil fertility arising from the application of BSFL residues in plant production and point to further research on quantification of the described effects.
We want to express our gratefulness to the RUNRES project funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation that enabled our study by providing us with the applied organic fertilizers through the two participating Rwandan bioconversion companies COPED and Maggot Farm Production Ltd. as well as the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA). We want to thank Horst Adelmann from the Laboratory of Food & Soft Materials, ETH Zurich for supporting the preparation and Conrad Günthard ...
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Permanent link to this itemhttps://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12478/7883
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