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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: ECOLOGICALLY-SOUND PEST, WATER AND SOIL MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES FOR NORTHERN GREAT PLAINS CROPPING SYSTEMS Title: Tillage depth effects on soil physical properties, sugarbeet yield and quality

Authors
item Jabro, Jalal "jay"
item Stevens, William
item Iversen, William
item Evans, Robert

Submitted to: Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: November 17, 2008
Publication Date: March 27, 2010
Repository URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10113/43092
Citation: Jabro, J.D., Stevens, W.B., Iversen, W.M., Evans, R.G. 2010. Tillage depth effects on soil physical properties, sugarbeet yield and quality. Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis. 41: 7:908 -916.

Interpretive Summary: Field study comprised of two tillage depths: shallow (ST) of 10-cm and deep (DT) of 20-cm was conducted on a Lihen sandy loam soil in spring of 2007 at the ARS irrigated research farm near Williston, ND. This study evaluated the effects of tillage depth on soil physical properties and on sugarbeet (Beta vulgaris L.) yield and quality. Soil bulk density (BD), gravimetric water content (WC), and saturated hydraulic conductivity (Ks) were measured three times during the growing season in four increments to 40 cm depth, approximately 0.5 m apart within the crop row of irrigated sugarbeet. Soil air-filled pore volume (AFP) was calculated from soil bulk density and water content data. Soil penetration resistance (PR) was also measured in 2.5-cm increments to a depth of 35 cm. Roots were hand harvested from each plot and each sample consisted of the roots within an area consisting of two adjacent rows 1.5 m long. Soil BD and Ks were significantly affected by the depth of tillage. Soil BD was greater in ST than in DT whereas Ks was greater with DT than with ST. Soil PR was significantly greater in ST than in DT at the 0 - 20 cm depth. Soil WC and AFP were slightly greater in DT than those under ST. The DT promoted the formation of air-filled pores more than ST and possibly increasing soil aeration to the plow depth. Although tillage depth had no significant effect on sugarbeet population, root yield, sucrose content, or sucrose yield, the small differences in sugarbeet yield and sucrose yield between two depths of tillage may be attributed to reduced BD, increased water intake, improved aeration and increased response to nitrogen uptake under DT than under ST. It was concluded that tillage depth enhanced soil physical quality and had no effect on sugarbeet yield or quality. More in depth work is required to address whether deep tillage (traditional) is a viable and cost effective compared with the shallow tillage practices.

Technical Abstract: Tillage depth influences the soil-water-plant ecosystem, thereby affecting crop yield and quality. The effects of tillage depth on soil physical properties and sugarbeet (Beta vulgaris L.) yield and quality were evaluated. A field study comprised of two tillage depths: shallow (ST) of 10-cm and deep (DT) of 20-cm was conducted on a Lihen sandy loam soil in spring of 2007 at the ARS irrigated research farm near Williston, ND. Soil bulk density, gravimetric water content, and saturated hydraulic conductivity (Ks) were measured three times during the growing season in four increments to 40 cm depth, approximately 0.5 m apart within the crop row of irrigated sugarbeet. Soil air-filled pore volume was calculated from soil bulk density and water content data. Soil penetration resistance (PR) was also measured in 2.5-cm increments to a depth of 35 cm. Roots were hand harvested from each plot and each sample consisted of the roots within an area consisting of two adjacent rows 1.5 m long. Soil bulk density was greater in ST than in DT whereas Ks was greater with DT than with ST. Soil PR was significantly greater in ST than in DT at the 0 to 20 cm depth. Soil water content and air porosity were slightly greater in DT than those under ST. Although tillage depth had no significant effect on sugarbeet population, root yield, sucrose content, or sucrose yield, the small differences in sugarbeet yield and sucrose yield between two depths of tillage may be attributed to reduced bulk density, increased water intake, improved aeration and increased response to nitrogen uptake under DT than under ST. It was concluded that tillage depth enhanced soil physical quality and had no effect on sugarbeet yield or quality.

Last Modified: 10/22/2014
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