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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Utilization of Conservation Tillage Practices to Rebuild Organic Carbon Levels in a Sandy, Coastal Plain Soil

item Novak, Jeffrey
item Bauer, Philip
item Hunt, Patrick

Submitted to: Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Carbon Sequestration Symposium
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: January 19, 2005
Publication Date: March 21, 2005
Citation: Novak, J.M., Bauer, P.J., Hunt, P.G. 2005. Utilization of conservation tillage practices to rebuild organic carbon levels in a sandy, coastal plain soil [abstract]. 3rd USDA Symposium on Greenhouse Gases and Carbon Sequestration in Agriculture and Forestry, March 21-24, 2005, Baltimore, Maryland. p. 184.

Technical Abstract: The pedogenic process in well-drained sandy, Coastal Plain soils has resulted in relatively low soil organic carbon (SOC) levels. In these soils, the predominance of sand-size particles, rapid internal drainage, and high residue oxidation rates causes rapid residue losses and a low build-up of SOC. Cultivation of soils using conventional tillage practices, whereby the residue is mixed into the soils, has increased the decline in SOC levels. Recent research, however, indicates that conservation tillage practices, which minimize residue incorporation, can increase SOC levels, but the increase is limited to the top few cm of soil. Long-term conservation and conventional tillage plots have been managed for 24 years in a sandy, well-drained Coastal Plain soil (Norfolk loamy sand). Crop rotation management in these plots consisted of corn, soybeans, winter wheat, and cotton. After 24 years of tillage management, annual deep coring (0 to 90-cm) within these plots has revealed that the surface SOC levels (0 to 5-cm depth) in soils under conservation tillage were significantly higher (1.33% SOC, P< 0.001) compared to soil under conventional tillage (0.84%). Mean SOC levels in lower profile depths were not significantly different (P> 0.05) between tillage systems. Efforts currently in progress are to enhance SOC sequestration in lower soil profile depths (below 5 cm) with a cover crop that has a high below ground root biomass (Secale cereale).

Last Modified: 4/22/2015