Submitted to: Soil Science Society of America Annual Meeting
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/17/2003
Publication Date: 11/2/2003
Citation: Pikul Jr, J.L., Schwartz, R.C., Benjamin, J.G., Baumhardt, R.L., Merrill, S.D. 2003. Assessment of cropping system in the great plains on soil quality: physical properties. Annual Meetings Abstracts, Soil Science Society Of America Annual Meeting. November 2-6, 2003, Denver, CO. CD-Rom.
Technical Abstract: Agricultural systems may produce both damaging and beneficial effects on soil quality. We conducted studies near Mead, NE; Brookings, SD; Fargo, ND; Swift Current, SK; Mandan, ND; Akron, CO; and Bushland, TX. All locations had long-term cropping system experiments comparing current and alternative practices. Our hypothesis was that increased diversity of cropping system improves soil quality attributes. Measurements include water infiltration, aggregate size distribution (mean weight diameter, MWD), and bulk density (BD). Soils at Brookings and Mead were selected for additional measurements of aggregate stability and selected aggregate properties. We identified no cropping system effect on water infiltration for locations having the same tillage operations within cropping system. MWD was significantly greater at Bushland and Fargo, locations having different cropping intensity or no tillage. Tillage results in increased, decreased, or unchanged BD near the soil surface, when compared with no tillage, depending on time of year. Measurements of infiltration, MWD, or BD made at only one time in a rotation cycle do not convey meaningful information on soil quality because of significant temporal variation in these properties. Further, simply expressing aggregate size distribution as a single value (MWD) missed important differences in aggregate properties between treatments.