ECOLOGICALLY-BASED SOIL AND CROP MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS FOR SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE
Location: North Central Agricultural Research Laboratory
Title: Blending soil conservation with production: Assessment of diverse crop rotations under no-till soil management for agronomic yield and soil C sequestration
Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: February 11, 2011
Publication Date: July 17, 2011
Citation: Riedell, W.E., Pikul, J.L., Osborne, S.L., Schumacher, T.E. 2011. Blending soil conservation with production: Assessment of diverse crop rotations under no-till soil management for agronomic yield and soil C sequestration. Soil and Water Conservation Society, 66th International Annual Conference, Washington DC, July 17-20, 2011. www.swcs.org/11AC.
Diversified crop rotations, which reduce risk associated with adoption of no-till soil management, may influence soil C sequestration and soil quality. This study measured effects of corn-soybean (C-S), corn-soybean-oat/pea hay (C-S-H), or corn-soybean-oat/pea hay-alfalfa-alfalfa (C-S-H-A-A) annual rotations on grain yield, stover/hay biomass, stover C, and soil C (0-7.5 cm depth) in soil converted to no-till management in 1996. Averaged over the last 2 yr of the experiment, grain yield from the corn phase of all rotations was 10.03 Mg/ha while soybeans yielded 1.84 Mg/ha. Corn stover remaining in the field after harvest was 10.61 Mg/ha and contained 4.80 Mg/ha C while that for soybean stover was 2.19 Mg/ha and contained 0.95 Mg/ha C. The oat/pea phase produced 5.35 Mg/ha hay while alfalfa produced 2.95 Mg/ha hay. Soil C sequestration rates, extrapolated from soil C measurements made in 1999 and 2007, were 142.4 kg C/ha/yr for C-S, 11.5 for C-S-H, and 253.1 for C-S-H-A-A. The C sequestration rate for C-S was intermediate between the other rotations. The greater C sequestration rate for C-S-H-A-A indicates that perennial forages included as rotational crops strongly increase soil C levels. The low C sequestration rate for C-S-H indicates that inclusion of oat/pea hay as a third rotational crop may not compensate for the reduction in the number of corn phases (and in the amount of stover C returned) that were present in the C-S rotation. Thus, greater crop rotational diversity when converting to no-till soil management may not always result in greater soil C sequestration.