Project ID



The goal of the project investigators was to characterize soil bacterial and fungal communities and the rates at which they break down specific plant-derived carbon (C) molecules within soil aggregates in three farming systems.

Key Question

How do soil fungal communities, and their associated activity, affect soil structure, fertility, and long-term storage of carbon in conventional and alternative cropping systems?


Evidence for improved soil structure was seen through the positive relationship between increased microbial biomass, increased microbial enzyme activity and increased soil aggregation in the fertilized prairie systems compared to the other cropping systems. These differences coincided with decreased soil carbon (C) loss in fertilized prairie as measured by total soil C between 2008, when the plots were established, and 2012 when soils were collected for the study.

Principal Investigator(s)

Kirsten Hofmockel


Elizabeth Bach

Year of Grant Completion