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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: CONSERVATION SYSTEMS RESEARCH FOR IMPROVING ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY AND PRODUCER PROFITABILITY Title: Conservation tillage improves soil physical properties on different landscape positions of a coastal plain soil

Authors
item Arriaga, Francisco
item Biscaro, Andre -
item Balkcom, Kipling
item Shaw, Joey -
item Van Santen, Edzard -
item Kornecki, Ted

Submitted to: Southern Conservation Agricultural Systems Conference
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: July 20, 2010
Publication Date: July 20, 2010
Citation: Arriaga, F.J., Biscaro, A.S., Balkcom, K.S., Shaw, J.N., Van Santen, E., Kornecki, T.S. 2010. Conservation tillage improves soil physical properties on different landscape positions of a coastal plain soil. In Endale, D.M., and Iversen, K.V., editors. Proceedings of the 32nd Southern Conservation Agricultural Systems Conference, July 20-22, 2010, Jackson, Tennessee. CDROM. Available at: http://www.ag.auburn.edu/auxiliary/nsdl/scasc/.

Interpretive Summary: Improved crop management is necessary due to raising production costs and environmental concerns. Input optimization from precision crop management might provide some solutions to these issues. Spatial variability of soil physical properties can significantly affect the implementation of precision agriculture techniques. A study was established in 2007 to determine the effect of management practices and landscape variability on soil quality indicators (infiltration, aggregate stability and total carbon) of a 22 acre field located in the central Alabama Coastal Plain. The field was divided into three zones (summit, backslope and accumulation) depending on their position in the landscape. Four management systems - conventional system with (CT+M) or without (CT) dairy manure, and conservation system, consisting of deep-tillage and a winter cover crop, with (ST+M) or without (ST) dairy manure – were established on a corn and cotton rotation in 2001. Infiltration, aggregate stability and carbon content were generally lower in CT. Manure significantly increased the carbon content, with 62% greater soil carbon content when manure was applied to CT, and 39% greater when applied to ST. Infiltration was greatest on the summit, followed by backslope and accumulation zones. No significant differences were found for aggregate stability and carbon between zones. Conservation tillage for 6 crop years thus far has improved infiltration and increased soil carbon content, whereas manure has only increased soil carbon content. Findings highlight the importance of tillage and cover crop use to improve soil quality.

Technical Abstract: Improved crop management is necessary due to raising production costs and environmental concerns. Input optimization from precision crop management might provide some solutions to these issues. Spatial variability of soil physical properties can significantly affect the implementation of precision agriculture techniques. A study was established in 2007 to determine the effect of management practices and landscape variability on soil physical properties (infiltration, aggregate stability and total C) of a 22 acre field located in the central Alabama Coastal Plain. The field was divided into three zones - summit, backslope and accumulation, using elevation, electrical conductivity and traditional soil survey data. Four management systems - conventional system with (CT+M) or without (CT) dairy manure, and conservation system, consisting of strip-tillage and a winter cover crop, with (ST+M) or without (ST) dairy manure – were established on a corn (Zea mays L.)-cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) rotation in 2001. Infiltration, aggregate stability and C content were generally lower in CT. Manure significantly increased the C content (P = 0.001), with 62% greater soil C content when manure was applied to CT, and 39% greater when applied to ST. Infiltration was greatest on the summit (5.7 in/h), followed by backslope and accumulation zones (3.4 and 2.8 in/h, respectively). No significant difference (P = 0.69 and 0.39, respectively) was found for aggregate stability and carbon between zones. Conservation tillage for 6 crop years thus far has improved infiltration and increased soil C content, whereas manure has only increased soil C content.

Last Modified: 10/23/2014