Spatiotemporal dynamics of soil health in urban agriculture

M. J. Salomon, S. J. Watts-Williams, M. J. McLaughlin, T. R. Cavagnaro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


There is a paucity of data on the state of urban agriculture soils. In order to develop efficient management practices, it is necessary to understand the seasonal dynamics of the soil health of these systems. This study sampled two community gardens, and one commercial urban agriculture site on a monthly basis over the span of one year. The dynamic analysis examined soil nutritional, chemical and microbial properties. Plant biodiversity was significantly higher in community gardens compared to commercial sites. Analysis of soil nutrients revealed fluctuations of mineral nitrogen with seasonal conditions and consistently high concentrations of plant-available phosphorus. We identified gradually decreasing soil total nitrogen and carbon concentrations throughout the year. Soils were abundant in arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi spores. Soil metabarcoding using 16S and ITS amplicons revealed a seasonal gradient of the microbial diversity and changes after the application of organic fertilizer. Soil-borne potential human pathogens were also detected in the soils. The results of this study provide relevant information about soil management principles in urban agriculture systems. These principles include mulching and the use of nutrient-balanced composts to counteract decreasing carbon pools and the excessive accumulation of phosphorus.

Original languageEnglish
Article number150224
Number of pages12
JournalScience of The Total Environment
Early online date10 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • AMF
  • Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi
  • Nutrient dynamics
  • Soil health
  • Urban agriculture


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