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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Management Effects on Soil Physical Properties in Long-Term Tillage Studies in Kansas

Authors
item Mcvay, K - KANSAS STATE UNIVERSITY
item Budde, J - NRCS, ILLINOIS
item Fabrizzi, K - KANSAS STATE UNIVERSITY
item Mikha, Maysoon
item Rice, C - KANSAS STATE UNIVERSITY
item Schlegel, A - KSU, SOUTH W. RES EXT
item Peterson, D - KANSAS STATE UNIVERSITY
item Sweeney, D - KSU, SOUTH E. AG RES CTR
item Thompson, C - KSU, AG RES CTR, HAYS, KS

Submitted to: Soil Science Society of America Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 8, 2005
Publication Date: March 1, 2006
Citation: Mcvay, K.A., Budde, J.A., Fabrizzi, K., Mikha, M.M., Rice, C.W., Schlegel, A.J., Peterson, D.E., Sweeney, D.W., Thompson, C. 2006. Management effects on soil physical properties in long-term tillage studies in Kansas. Soil Science Society of America Journal. 70:434-438. Doi:10.2136/sssaj2005.0249.

Interpretive Summary: The physical properties of any soil are a function of climate, vegetation, parent material, topography, and time. Soils of the Great Plains that formed over millions of years have evolved into a balanced ecosystem. Yet, in a very short period of time, management by man has altered this balance. This study evaluated the changes in soil properties such as soil organic carbon (SOC), water holding capacity (WHC), bulk density, and aggregate stability in 5 long-term tillage studies in Kansas. Study sites were at 5 different locations in the state of Kansas with different soil types and management practices (Tillage practices, cropping systems, and nitrogen (N) types). On average, these studies have been conducted for 23 years. Soil properties were characterized in three depth increments to 30 cm. Analyses of our results suggest that changes due to tillage, N fertility, or crop rotation could only be found in the upper 0 to 5-cm depth. Decreased tillage intensity, increased N fertilization, and crop rotations that included graminous crops increased SOC in the 0 to 5-cm soil depth. Only one of five sites had an increase in WHC, which occurred in the upper 0 to 5-cm depth. A close relationship was observed between aggregate stability and SOC at all sites. Bulk density was increased by no-tillage. Over all, different management practices can increase SOC levels and improve aggregate stability, but increased SOC did not result in increased WHC for the majority of soils evaluated in this study.

Technical Abstract: Five long-term tillage studies in Kansas were evaluated for changes in soil properties including soil organic carbon (SOC), water holding capacity (WHC), bulk density, and aggregate stability. The average length of time these studies have been conducted is 23 years. Soil properties were characterized in three depth increments to 30 cm, yet significant changes due to tillage, nitrogen (N) fertility, or crop rotation could only be found in the upper 0 to 5-cm depth. Decreased tillage intensity, increased N fertilization, and crop rotations that included graminous crops significantly increased SOC in the 0 to 5-cm soil depth. Only one of five sites had a significant increase in WHC, which occurred in the upper 0 to 5-cm depth. Aggregate stability was highly correlated with SOC at all sites. Bulk density was increased by no-tillage but remained below that considered root limiting. Soil organic carbon levels can be modified by management which can improve aggregate stability, but increased SOC did not result in increased WHC for the majority of soils evaluated in this study.

Last Modified: 8/30/2014
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