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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: INTEGRATED DRAINAGE WATER & AGRONOMIC MGMT STRATEGIES FOR ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION & SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION IN THE MIDWEST U.S.

Location: Soil Drainage Research

Title: Long-term tillage and drainage influences on soil organic carbon dynamics, aggregate stability, and corn yield

Authors
item Kumar, Sandeep -
item Nakajima, Toru -
item Mbonimpa, Eric -
item Gautam, Sagar -
item Somireddy, Upender -
item Kadona, Ataunobu -
item Lal, Rattan -
item Chintala, Rajesh -
item Rafique, Rashid -
item Fausey, Norman

Submitted to: Soil Science and Plant Nutrition (SSPN)
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: April 16, 2014
Publication Date: May 16, 2014
Citation: Kumar, S., Nakajima, T., Mbonimpa, E., Gautam, S., Somireddy, U., Kadona, A., Lal, R., Chintala, R., Rafique, R., Fausey, N.R. 2014. Long-term tillage and drainage influences on soil organic carbon dynamics, aggregate stability, and corn yield. Soil Science and Plant Nutrition (SSPN). 60(1):108-118.

Interpretive Summary: The soils and climatic conditions in the Midwest U S require use of subsurface drainage for economic crop production. Use of subsurface drainage promotes loss of soil organic matter and increased loss of soluble nutrients. Adoption of no-till for grain production is known to increase soil organic matter, and improved drainage facilitates adoption of more no-till. This study measured the changes in soil properties after 18 years under four treatments: conventional tillage and no tillage each with and without subsurface drainage. No-till management increased soil organic carbon and number and size of macro-aggregates, and decreased soil bulk density compared to conventional tillage management. Drainage impacts on soil parameters were negligible, but, in general, drainage improved soil porosity and the corn yield. This information will benefit land managers, conservation agencies and policy makers.

Technical Abstract: Labile pools of soil organic carbon (SOC) and nitrogen (N) affect the carbon (C) and N fluxes from terrestrial soils, whereas, long-term C and N storage is determined by the long-lived recalcitrant fractions. Tillage influences these labile pools, however effect of the tillage systems may be different on poorly drained soils with and without subsurface drainage . Therefore, the present study was conducted on a field experiment, established at the Waterman Farm of The Ohio State University in 1994. Specific objectives of the study were to assess the influence of no-tillage (NT) and chisel tillage (CT) with drainage (TD) and non-drainage (ND) management under continuous corn (Zea mays, L.) on SOC, C fractions (heavy and light), and water stable aggregates (WSA). Data from this study showed that the SOC stock for the NT was 25, 37 and 32% higher for the 0-10, 10-20 and 40-60 cm depths, respectively, as compared to that under CT system. Tillage significantly influenced the light fraction (LF) and heavy fraction (HF) of carbon. The NT system increased LF and HF by 10 and 12%, respectively, compared to CT for the 0-10 cm depth. The 18 years of NT management decreased soil bulk density and increased macroaggregates and mean weight diameters compared to that under CT system. Drainage impacts on soil parameters were negligible, but, in general, drainage improved soil porosity and the corn yield. It can be concluded that NT management with subsurface drainage increases SOC and promotes aggregation and corn yield as compared to that with CT system.

Last Modified: 11/23/2014
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