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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 #345088


Location: Soil, Water & Air Resources Research

Title: Tillage effects on soil quality after three years of irrigation in Northern Spain

item APESTEGUIA, MARCOS - Institute Of Agrifood Research And Technology
item VIRTO, INIGO - Public University Of Navarra
item ORCARAY, LUIS - Institute Of Agrifood Research And Technology
item BESCONSA, PALOMA - Public University Of Navarra
item ENRIQUE, ALBERTO - Public University Of Navarra
item IMAZ, MARI - Public University Of Navarra
item Karlen, Douglas

Submitted to: Sustainability
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/15/2017
Publication Date: 8/21/2017
Citation: Apesteguia, M., Virto, I., Orcaray, L., Besconsa, P., Enrique, A., Imaz, M.J., Karlen, D.L. 2017. Tillage effects on soil quality after three years of irrigation in Northern Spain. Sustainability. 9(8):1476-1496. doi: 10.3390/su9081476.

Interpretive Summary: Soil quality or soil health is a topic of global interest because of the increasing demands placed on soil resources to meet food, feed, fiber, and fuel requirements for a population that is anticipated to exceed 9 billion by 2050. Tools are therefore needed to evaluate the impact of land use decisions to be sure our fragile soil resources are not being degraded. This study re-evaluated soil quality indicators using the Soil Management Assessment Framework (SMAF) three years after changing a previously evaluated site from non-irrigated to irrigated management. The results, which will be useful for farmers, conservationists, land use planners, and government policy makers, confirm that soil health indicators should be re-evaluated after making land use changes that alter soil and plant growth environments.

Technical Abstract: Irrigation is being initiated on large areas of traditionally rainfed land to meet increasing global demand for food, feed, fiber, and fuel. However, the consequences of this transition on soil quality (SQ) have scarcely been studied. Therefore, after previously identifying the most tillage-sensitive SQ indicators under long-term rainfed conditions, conversion of a research site on a Haplic Calcisol in Navarre, in northeast Spain provided an ideal location to reevaluate those SQ indicators after three years of irrigated management. The Soil Management Assessment Framework (SMAF) was used to test our hypothesis that adopting irrigation could change the sensitivity and importance of non-irrigated SQ indicators. Several soil physical, chemical, and biological indicators along with crop yields were used to evaluate SQ three years after initiating irrigation on a long-term conventional tillage (CT), minimum tillage (MT) and no-tillage (NT) study where either barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) or wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) were being grown. The results confirmed our hypothesis that irrigation would change the relative importance of various SQ indicators and suggested that some SMAF algorithms, such as those used to assess bulk density, needed to be recalibrated for these Mediterranean soils.