Submitted to: Ecological Society of America Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/10/2000
Publication Date: 8/10/2000
Citation: Andrews, S.S., Hansen, R., Karlen, D.L., Cambardella, C.A., Moorman, T.B. 2000. Comparing microarthropod diversity and soil quality indices in three agricultural watersheds [abstract]. Ecological Society of America Proceedings. Available:www.esa.org/publications.
Technical Abstract: Indexing tools may provide agroecosystem managers with the integrated information necessary to evaluate sustainability of management alternatives. We compared several indices of soil microarthropod diversity with a soil quality (SQ) index comprised of chemical, physical and biological parameters. We used these indices to evaluate 3 management systems at a watershed (WS) scale in deep loess soils. In 1996, after a 25+ year history of continuous corn with conventional tillage. WS 1 and 2 were converted to no-till with corn-soybean and corn-soybean-corn- alfalfa-alfalfa-alfalfa rotations, respectively. WS 3 was in continuous corn with ridge tillage throughout this time. In 1998, we sampled corn plots in all 3 watersheds for microarthropod diversity at the suborder level incorporate both trophic and life history strategy differences. The indicators chosen for the SQ index included total carbon, potentially mineralizable N, % aggregation, pH, microbial biomass C, and glucosidase activity. Only Margalef's and Menhinick's diversity indices showed significant differences between WSs. The conservation tillage practice in WS 3 supported higher soil microarthropod diversity compared with WS 1 and 2 after two years of no-till. No rotation effects were detected. The SQ index resulted in higher scores for WS 1 and 2 than for WS 3, possibly indicating soil conditions that are improving although not yet apparent within the microarthropod community. Further analysis over time may be necessary to reconcile differences in index outcomes.