The fate of future food productivity depends primarily upon the health of soil used for cultivation. For Atlantic Europe, increased precipitation is predicted during both winter and summer months. Interactions between climate change and the fertilization of land used for agriculture are therefore vital to understand. This is particularly relevant for inorganic phosphorus (P) fertilization, which already suffers from resource and sustainability issues. The soil microbiota are a key indicator of soil health and their functioning is critical to plant productivity, playing an important role in nutrient acquisition, particularly when plant available nutrients are limited. A multifactorial, mesocosm study was established to assess the effects of increased soil water availability and inorganic P fertilization, on spring wheat biomass, soil enzymatic activity (dehydrogenase and acid phosphomonoesterase) and soil bacterial community assemblages. Our results highlight the significance of the spring wheat rhizosphere in shaping soil bacterial community assemblages and specific taxa under a moderate soil water content (60%), which was diminished under a higher level of soil water availability (80%). In addition, an interaction between soil water availability and plant presence overrode a long-term bacterial sensitivity to inorganic P fertilization. Together this may have implications for developing sustainable P mobilization through the use of the soil microbiota in future. Spring wheat biomass grown under the higher soil water regime (80%) was reduced compared to the constant water regime (60%) and a reduction in yield could be exacerbated in the future when grown in cultivated soil that have been fertilized with inorganic P. The potential feedback mechanisms for this need now need exploration to understand how future management of crop productivity may be impacted.
- climate change
- soil moisture