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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 #322950

Title: A VESS assessment of tillage and stover harvest effects in Iowa, U.S.A.GE

item TORMENA, CASSIO - University Of Maringa
item Karlen, Douglas
item Logsdon, Sally
item CHERUBIN, MAURICIO - Universidad De Sao Paulo

Submitted to: ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/1/2015
Publication Date: 11/18/2015
Citation: Tormena, C.A., Karlen, D.L., Logsdon, S.D., Cherubin, M. 2015. A VESS assessment of tillage and stover harvest effects in Iowa, USA [abstract]. ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting Abstracts. Abstract No. 423-2.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Soil quality/health reflects physical, chemical, and biological properties, processes, and interactions occurring in response to management practices such as tillage and crop residue removal. Increased global interest in harvesting crop residues for bioenergy, animal feed, or other bio-products has resulted in questions regarding effects on soil structure. Few studies have assessed the combined effects of stover harvest and tillage practice on soil structural quality. We used a semi-quantitative approach – the Visual Evaluation of Soil Structure (VESS), which is proposed as quickly, accurate, inexpensive and straightforward methodology to evaluate the soil structural quality. VESS integrates soil properties related to size, strength and porosity of aggregates, roots and soil color into a single number – the Sq (structural quality) scores. Sq ranges from 1 (good structural quality) to 5 (poor structural quality). We evaluated non-removal, moderate and high stover harvest levels for no-tillage (NT) and chisel plow (CP) following seven years of continuous corn. Undisturbed 10 x 20 x 25 cm soil blocks were taken using a spade in April 2015. Were measured the thickness and Sq score of layers with distinct soil structural qualities and computed an overall Sq (weighted average). A significant interaction was found between corn stover harvest versus tillage system for the overall Sq score. There were no significant Sq differences between NT and CP since an average of 50% of the corn stover is kept on the soil surface. Under complete corn stover harvest Sq CP > Sq NT. For NT, stover harvest significantly increased in Sq while for CP only the high level of stover harvest had an adverse effect on Sq. The VESS approach was sensitive for detecting effects of corn stover harvest and tillage practice on soil structural quality and should be further evaluated as an integrative soil quality/health indicator.