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Article|17 May 2022|OPEN
Improved ginseng production under continuous cropping through soil health reinforcement and rhizosphere microbial manipulation with biochar: a field study of Panax ginseng from Northeast China
Cheng Liu1,2 , Rong Xia1 , Man Tang1 , Xue Chen1 , Bin Zhong1 , Xiaoyu Liu1,2 , Rongjun Bian1,2 , Li Yang3 , Jufeng Zheng1,2 , Kun Cheng1,2 and Xuhui Zhang1,2 , Marios Drosos1,2 , Lianqing Li1,2 , Shengdao Shan4 , Stephen Joseph1,5 , Genxing Pan,1,2 ,
1Institute of Resource, Ecosystem and Environment of Agriculture, and Department of Soil Science, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing 210095, Jiangsu, China
2Jiangsu Collaborative Innovation Center for Solid Organic Waste Resource Utilization, Nanjing Agricultural University, 1 Weigang, Nanjing 210095, China
3College of Chinese Medicinal Materials, Jilin Agricultural University, 28888 Xincheng Street, Changchun 130118 China
4Key Laboratory of Recycling and Eco-treatment of Waste Biomass of Zhejiang Province, Zhejiang University of Science and Technology, Hangzhou 310023, China
5School of Materials Science and Engineering, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales 2052, Australia
*Corresponding author. E-mail:

Horticulture Research 9,
Article number: uhac108 (2022)
Views: 142

Received: 07 Dec 2021
Accepted: 23 Apr 2022
Published online: 17 May 2022


The production of ginseng, an important Chinese medicine crop, has been increasingly challenged by soil degradation and pathogenic disease under continuous cropping in Northeast China. In a field experiment, an Alfisol garden continuously cropped with Chinese ginseng (Panax ginseng C. A. Meyer) was treated with soil amendment at 20 t ha−1 with maize (MB) and wood (WB) biochar, respectively, compared to conventional manure compost (MC). Two years after the amendment, the rooted topsoil and ginseng plants were sampled. The changes in soil fertility and health, particularly in the soil microbial community and root disease incidence, and in ginseng growth and quality were portrayed using soil physico-chemical assays, biochemical assays of extracellular enzyme activities and gene sequencing assays as well as ginsenoside assays. Topsoil fertility was improved by 23% and 39%, ginseng root biomass increased by 25% and 27%, and root quality improved by 6% and 18% with WB and MB, respectively, compared to MC. In the ginseng rhizosphere, fungal abundance increased by 96% and 384%, with a significant and insignificant increase in bacterial abundance, respectively, under WB and MB. Specifically, the abundance of Fusarium spp. was significantly reduced by 19–35%, while that of Burkholderia spp. increased by folds under biochar amendments over MC. Relevantly, there was a significant decrease in the abundance proportion of pathotrophic fungi but a great increase in that of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, along with an enhanced microbial community network complexity, especially fungal community complexity, under biochar amendments. Thus, biochar, particularly from maize residue, could promote ginseng quality production while enhancing soil health and ecological services, including carbon sequestration, in continuously cropped fields.