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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Florence, South Carolina » Coastal Plain Soil, Water and Plant Conservation Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #203594

Title: Managing soil under vegetable production to improve soil quality

item MCGRAW, M
item REDDY, G
item Busscher, Warren
item Bauer, Philip

Submitted to: American Society of Agronomy Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/25/2006
Publication Date: 11/12/2006
Citation: Raczkowski, C.W., Mcgraw, M.L., Baldwin, K.R., Reddy, G.B., Busscher, W.J., Bauer, P.J. 2006. Managing soil under vegetable production to improve soil quality [abstract]. ASA-CSSA-SSSA 2006 International Meetings, November 12-16, 2006, Indianapolis, Indiana. 2006 CDROM.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Over the years, soil quality has eroded as soil organic matter has declined on farms across North Carolina. This study is assessing the effects of tillage practice, winter cover cropping and compost use on changes in soil function and improvement in soil quality under vegetable production. The field experiment, located at the NC A&T State University Farm, was designed as a split-split plot with tillage levels (disk and no tillage) assigned to main plots, cover crop levels (cover crop and no cover crop) assigned to subplots, and compost levels (compost applied and no compost applied) assigned to sub-subplots. In both fall of 2003 and fall of 2004, a crimson clover and abruzzi rye biculture was planted in cover crop subplots and compost was applied at a rate of 11.2 Mg/ha to compost sub-subplots. The cover crop biculture was mechanically killed each spring prior to tillage and planting of the summer cucurbit crop (pumpkins, 2004 and butternut squash, 2005). A soil quality assessment was conducted during the 2005 squash growing season. Soil properties differed between tillage practices, cover crop levels, and compost levels. The largest diffferences in soil properties were between cover crop levels. Cover cropping increased microbial activity, water retention, aggregate stability, infiltration, soil water content, and yield. Yield in no till was equal or greater to that of tilled plots when using a winter cover crop.