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ARS Home » Plains Area » El Reno, Oklahoma » Grazinglands Research Laboratory » Forage and Livestock Production Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #332826

Research Project: Integrated Forage Systems for Food and Energy Production in the Southern Great Plains

Location: Forage and Livestock Production Research

Title: Assessing soil microbial biomass and communities as an indicator of soil health in wheat systems under different nitrogen and tillage practices

item Srinivas, Nisha
item Dupont, Jesse
item Lokesh, Nidhish
item SOMENAHALLY, ANIL - Texas A&M University
item Northup, Brian
item Gowda, Prasanna

Submitted to: ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/15/2016
Publication Date: 11/6/2016
Citation: Srinivas, N., Dupont, J.I., Lokesh, N., Somenahally, A., Northup, B.K., Gowda, P. 2016. Assessing soil microbial biomass and communities as an indicator of soil health in wheat systems under different nitrogen and tillage practices [abstract]. ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting, Resilience Emerging from Scarcity and Abundance, November 6-9, 2016, Phoenix, Arizona. Available:

Interpretive Summary: Abstract only.

Technical Abstract: Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) is a major cereal crop around the world, and its monoculture production systems consume almost 30% of all of the N fertilizers globally. However, the N use efficiency (NUE) in wheat is only around 40-55%. As a result, the nitrogen fertilization is not only a significant economic burden on production, but also a substantial contributor to N leaching, and NOx gas emissions, with undesired consequences on water quality and climate. Other undesired consequences of intensive monoculture wheat production systems is the decline in soil organic matter status along with the subsequent decline in soil fertility, physical structure, and buffering capacity of soils. This study was originally initiated to evaluate the diversification of wheat production systems for organic N supplementation using a summer legume rotation, and its influence on soil health and soil microbial communities, under different tillage practices. Field experiments were under till and no-till, with either inorganic N fertilization or cowpea green manure rotations. Soil core samples (0-60 cm depth) at several time points were obtained for assessing soil microbial diversity. Abundance of eukaryotes, prokaryotes, methanogens and methanotrophs was estimated based on molecular marker quantifications using qPCR. Microbial biomass was estimated based on phospholipid fatty acids (PLFA). Soil quality was estimated by comparing the water extractable organic carbon and nitrogen pools in soil profile. Different tillage practices did not significantly affect the soil carbon pools or soil microbial communities in surface soil. However, the overall trends in subsurface soil indicated higher carbon accumulation and microbial biomass in cowpea rotations and tilled plots.