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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Crop Yield and Nitrogen Accumulation Response to Surface and Subsurface Tillage

Authors
item Hunt, Patrick
item Bauer, Philip
item Matheny, Terry
item Busscher, Warren

Submitted to: Crop Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: October 15, 2003
Publication Date: September 1, 2004
Citation: Hunt, P.G., Bauer, P.J., Matheny, T.A., Busscher, W.J. 2004. Crop yield and nitrogen accumulation response to surface and subsurface tillage. Crop Science.44:1673-1681.

Interpretive Summary: Although great progress has been made in crop production with conservation tillage, there are many areas of the USA and the world where specific soil differences must be understood and managed for optimal implementation of effective conservation, crop production systems. The objective of this experiment was to assess the impact of surface and subsoil tillage of a sandy coastal plain soil on seed yield and nitrogen accumulation for a two-year rotation of corn and wheat double-cropped with soybean. Soil of the experimental site had different soil residue and organic matter characteristics on the surface because it received either surface-disking tillage or conservation surface tillage for 18 years prior to the implementation of this experiment. The specific tillage treatments were: 1) neither surface nor subsoil tillage, 2) subsoil tillage without surface tillage, 3) surface tillage without subsoil tillage, and 4) both surface and subsoil tillage. Corn seed yields were 4.24, 4.98, 3.51, and 4.92 Mg/ha, respectively, for treatments 1-4. Wheat yields were increased by subsoil tillage but not by surface tillage, and soybean yields were not significantly affected by either surface or subsurface tillage. Although the harvest indexes of the treatments without surface tillage were highest, nitrogen accumulation in dry matter and seed generally followed the patterns of treatment responses of seed yield. We concluded that surface conservation tillage in combination with subsoil tillage was the best combination for both yield and resource management of a sandy coastal plain soil.

Technical Abstract: Although great progress has been made in crop production with conservation tillage, there are many physiographic and soil specific differences that must be understood for optimal implementation of effective conservation, crop production systems. The objective of this experiment was to assess the impact of surface and subsoil tillage of a sandy coastal plain soil (fine-loamy, siliceous, thermic Typic Kandiudult) on seed yield and nitrogen accumulation for a two-year rotation of corn (Zea mays) and wheat-double cropped soybean [(Triticum aestivum L.), and (Glycine max). Soil of the experimental site had different soil residue and organic matter characteristics on the surface because it received either surface-disking tillage or conservation surface tillage for 18 years; the subsoils received in-row subsoiling. The specific tillage treatments were: 1) neither surface nor subsoil tillage, 2) paratil subsoiling without surface tillage, 3) surface tillage without subsoiling, and 4) both surface tillage and paratil subsoiling. Corn seed yields were 4.24, 4.98, 3.51, and 4.92 Mg/ha, respectively, for treatments 1-4. Wheat yields were increased by paratiling but not by surface tillage, and soybean yields were not significantly affected by either surface or subsurface tillage. Although the harvest indexes of the treatments without surface tillage were highest, nitrogen accumulation in dry matter and seed generally followed the patterns of treatment responses of seed yield. We concluded that surface conservation tillage in combination with paratiling was the best combination for both yield and resource management of a sandy coastal plain soil.

Last Modified: 4/18/2014
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