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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: NO-TILL RIDGE TILL AND CONVENTIONAL TILLAGE COTTON EFFECTS ON SOIL ORGANIC MATTER AND PH

Authors
item Smart, James
item Bradford, Joe

Submitted to: National Cotton Council Beltwide Cotton Conference
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: January 4, 1999
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Tillage effects on soil health, organic matter and nutrient cycling is very limited for subtropical semiarid environments. The objectives of this study were 1) to determine the effect of no-tillage, ridge-tillage and conventional moldboard tillage systems on soil organic matter content, soil pH, sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium and cation exchange capacity (CEC); and 2) provide farmers with guidelines and information for implementing conservation tillage. No-till organic matter in the surface 2 inches of soil doubled and potassium at the same depth was 133% of the conventional tillage treatment in only six years. Other factors within the plant nutrient medium such as sodium, magnesium, calcium, pH and cation exchange did not differ with tillage treatment. The rapid change in organic matter near the soil surface can increase water infiltration rates, soil temperatures, evaporative losses of soil moisture, and improve soil structure.

Technical Abstract: Conservation tillage can reduce wind and water erosion while increasing water infiltration rates of soil. There is currently very little information on the effects of tillage in subtropical, semiarid environments on soil organic matter, pH, cation exchange capacity or plant nutrient cycling within the rooting profile. The objectives of this study were 1) to determine the effect of no-tillage, ridge-tillage and conventional moldboard tillage systems on soil organic matter content, soil pH, sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium and cation exchange capacity (CEC); and 2) provide farmers with guidelines and information for implementing conservation tillage. After only six years, the organic matter of the top 5 cm of soil was almost doubled with no-tillage (1.16% -v 0%) compared with conventional moldboard tillage in a semiarid, subtropical south Texas environment. Tillage was found to have little effect on soil pH, sodium, magnesium, calcium or cation exchange capacity, but no-tillage and ridge-till did have greater concentrations of potassium near the surface (0-5 cm layer) than the conventional moldboard tillage treatment (906 -vs-681 ppm). The plant nutrient medium within the top one meter was affected by tillage. Soil organic matter and potassium increased near the surface in the no-tillage compared with conventional moldboard tillage.

Last Modified: 8/27/2014
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