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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Columbia, Missouri » Cropping Systems and Water Quality Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #362747

Research Project: Long-term Management of Water Resources in the Central Mississippi River Basin

Location: Cropping Systems and Water Quality Research

Title: A chronosequence of soil helath under tallgrass prairie reconstruction in central Missouri

item LI, CHENHUI - University Of Missouri
item Veum, Kristen
item GOYNE, KEITH - University Of Missouri
item Acosta-Martinez, Veronica

Submitted to: Soil Ecology Society Conference
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/2/2019
Publication Date: 5/28/2019
Citation: Li, C., Veum, K.S., Goyne, K.W., Acosta Martinez, V. 2019. A chronosequence of soil helath under tallgrass prairie reconstruction in central Missouri [abstract]. 2019 Soil Ecology Society Biennial Meeting. May 28-31, 2019. Toledo, Ohio. No. 25.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Changes in soil health with reconstruction time were examined using a chronosequence of formerly cultivated fields reconstructed to native tallgrass prairie in Central Missouri (0-13 yrs as of 2017) with one row-cropped field representing “0-yr”. Two long-term reconstructed prairie sites (~25 yrs and ~45 yrs post-reconstruction) and one remnant prairie served as reference sites. A suite of soil health indicators including pH, wet aggregate stability (WAS), particle size, soil organic C/N, active C (permanganate oxidizable C) and N (total protein), mineralizable C and N (soil respiration and potentially mineralizable nitrogen), and soil enzyme activities involved in C, N, P, and S cycling were assessed. Several of the indicators followed a “bell-shaped” response curve from 0 to 13 yrs, with a peak around 9-yr. The ratios of active C to SOC and active N to TN declined with increasing time post-reconstruction, reflecting the conversion of active C/N pools to more stable C/N pools resulting from continued organic inputs in the reconstructed prairie. During the soil health restoration, the soil physical, chemical, and biochemical properties changed synergistically. The ten soil biochemical indicators were highly positively correlated to each other (r = 0.78-0.99). In particular, all soil biochemical indicators were positively correlated with WAS but negatively related to soil pH, which declined with increasing post-reconstruction time. We postulate that the apparent soil health decline observed in sites with greater than 9-yr reconstruction may be the result of a combination of historical management and site conditions. Further study, however, is required to understand the factors affecting reconstructed prairie soil health.