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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Ames, Iowa » National Laboratory for Agriculture and The Environment » Soil, Water & Air Resources Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #279253

Title: Transformation of forest soils in Iowa (the United States) under the impact of the long-term agricultural development

item CHENDEV, YURY - Belgorod State University
item BURRAS, C. LEE - Iowa State University
item Sauer, Thomas - Tom

Submitted to: Eurasian Soil Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/9/2011
Publication Date: 3/28/2012
Citation: Chendev, Y.G., Burras, C., Sauer, T.J. 2012. Transformation of forest soils in Iowa (the United States) under the impact of the long-term agricultural development. Eurasian Soil Science. 45(4):357-367. DOI:10.1134/S1064229312040035.

Interpretive Summary: Land use change can have significant and long-lasting effects on soil properties. When forests are cleared to grow crops, several changes occur that may affect properties of soil, even at great depths. This study involved field investigations of soils that were all originally in forest in eastern Iowa that had been cleared for cultivation 50, 110, and 150 years ago. Soil pits were dug to allow full visual descriptions of the soil down to approximately 1.5 m. Soil cores were also collected to verify the observations made in the pits. The results showed evidence of improved soil structure and greater earthworm and rodent activitiy in deeper layers of the cultivated soils. Mineral accumulation was also increased. The total amount of carbon was generally greater in the cultivated soils. These changes were attributed to warmer soil temperatures in the fields compared to the shade of the forest and to the decomposition of plant roots following plowing in the fields. These results are of interest to scientists and policymakers interested in long-term changes in soil properties following changes in land-use.

Technical Abstract: The evolution of automorphic cultivated soils of the Fayette series (the order of Alfisols)—close analogues of gray forest soils in the European part of Russia—was studied by the method of agrosoil chro_nosequences in the lower reaches of the Iowa River. It was found that the old_arable soils are characterized by an increase in the thickness of humus horizons and a better aggregation; they are subjected to active biogenic turbation by rodents; some alkalization of the soil reaction and an increase in the sum of exchangeable bases also take place. These features are developed against the background of active eluvial–illuvial differentiation and gleyzation of the soil profiles under conditions of a relatively wet climate typical of the ecotone between the zones of prairies and broadleaved forests in the northeast of Central Plains of the United States.