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ARS Home » Plains Area » Mandan, North Dakota » Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #305740

Research Project: Sustainable Agricultural Systems for the Northern Great Plains

Location: Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory

Title: Cover cropping impacts on arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and soil aggregation

Author
item Nichols, Kristine
item Archer, David
item Halvorson, Jonathan
item Hendrickson, John
item Johnson, Holly
item Kronberg, Scott
item Liebig, Mark
item MOYER, JEFF - Rodale Institute
item Sanderson, Matt
item SMALLWOOD, MARK - Rodale Institute

Submitted to: ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/28/2014
Publication Date: 11/3/2014
Citation: Nichols, K.A., Archer, D.W., Halvorson, J.J., Hendrickson, J.R., Johnson, H.A., Kronberg, S.L., Liebig, M.A., Moyer, J., Sanderson, M.A., Smallwood, M. 2014. Cover cropping impacts on arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and soil aggregation. ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting Abstracts. Online. www.agronomy.org.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Cover crops are a management tool which can extend the period of time that a living plant is growing and conducting photosynthesis. This is critical for soil health, because most of the soil organisms, particularly the arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, are limited by carbon. Research, on-farm, and demonstration plot studies indicate that continuous cropping (i.e. eliminating crop-fallow) and inclusion of cover crops or green manure crops enhance mycorrhizal activity, glomalin production, and soil aggregation. Increases in mycorrhizal activity increase nutrient cycling and nutrient acquisition and improve plant resiliency under changing climatic conditions. In addition, soil aggregation creates soil with numerous stable pores for better water infiltration and water-holding capacity, and soil within aggregates also resists wind and water erosion. Finally, because cover crops increase the overall input of carbon into the soil and carbon compounds, even labile ones, within aggregates are less susceptible to decomposition, this may make a substantial difference in soil carbon storage.