IMPROVING SOILS AND THEIR MANAGEMENT FOR MORE EFFICIENT WATER USE IN ENVIRONMENTALLY SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE
Location: Coastal Plain Soil, Water and Plant Conservation Research
Title: Managing a Piedmont soil to improve its quality
Submitted to: The 1890 Association of Research Directors Biennial Research Symposium
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: February 10, 2011
Publication Date: April 8, 2011
Citation: Raczkowski, C.W., Reddy, G.B., Busscher, W.J., Bauer, P.J., Franzluebbers, A.J. 2011. Managing a Piedmont soil to improve its quality. In: Program and Abstracts of The 1890 Association of Research Directors Biennial Research Sympsoium, April 9-13, 2011, Atlanta, Georgia. p. 157.
Management systems that effectively increase soil organic matter are needed to restore southeast U.S. Piedmont soils into productive agronomic fields. A field study was conducted from 2003 through 2008 with the following objectives: (1) evaluate the effects of tillage, winter cover cropping and the application of compost on soil physical, chemical and biological properties; (2) assess soil quality in each experimental treatment using the soil property data collected; (3) identify a soil management plan highly effective at improving soil quality. The experimental design was a split-split plot with 4 replications. Main plot levels were disk tillage and no tillage, sub-plot levels were a winter cover crop and no cover crop grown, and sub-sub-plot levels were compost and no compost applied. Beginning in 2004, the sequence of summer crops planted was pumpkins, squash, sweet corn, pumpkins and squash. Soil physical, chemical and biological properties were used in the Soil Management Assessment Framework of USDA-NRCS to assess overall soil quality. Cover cropping increased soil water infiltration and soil water retention. The application of compost increased soil organic carbon and the soil cation exchange capacity. The largest improvement in soil quality was obtained in the treatment factorial combination no tillage/cover cropping/compost applied.