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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Mississippi State, Mississippi » Crop Science Research Laboratory » Genetics and Sustainable Agriculture Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #366552

Research Project: Closing the Yield Gap of Cotton, Corn, and Soybean in the Humid Southeast with More Sustainable Cropping Systems

Location: Genetics and Sustainable Agriculture Research

Title: Management strategies on an Upland soil for improving soil properties

item Adeli, Ardeshir
item Brooks, John
item Read, John
item Feng, Gary
item Miles, Dana
item SHANKLE, MARK - Mississippi State University
item Barksdale, Dosha
item Jenkins, Johnie

Submitted to: Soil Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/17/2019
Publication Date: 12/9/2020
Citation: Adeli, A., Brooks, J.P., Read, J.J., Feng, G.G., Miles, D.M., Shankle, M.W., Barksdale, D.N., Jenkins, J.N. 2020. Management strategies on an Upland soil for improving soil properties. Soil Science. 51(3); 413-429. HTTPS://DOI.ORG/10.1080/00103624.2019.1709490.

Interpretive Summary: 1. Soils are a finite natural resource that are nonrenewable under agricultural production without implementation of sustainable management practices. Upland soils are characterized marginal in organic matter, low in soil fertility and vulnerable to water and nutrient losses through runoff and soil erosion. Crops in upland soils are grown under no-till systems. The effectiveness of a no-till system alone may not improve soil physical and biological due to rapid decomposition plant residue under sub-humid southeast agro-ecosystem. Insufficient residue accumulation in no-till systems makes the soil less responsive to conservation tillage and increases the soil susceptibility to compaction and erosion which may eventually lead to yield reductions. In addition, continuous cropping systems are perceived as unsustainable for both crop production and soil health. Cover crops and soil organic amendments have the potential to build-up soil organic matter, enhance soil physical and biological properties, particularly when accompanied with crop rotations. Understanding the interactive effects of winter cover crops and soil amendments into no-till cropping systems on soil quality and productivity is very important and can be considered a good strategy to boost both soil organic matter and no-till performance, however, have not been investigated extensively in southeastern U.S. Therefore, the objective was to evaluate the interactive effect of cover crop and soil amendments, such as broiler litter and flue gas desulfurization (FGD) gypsum, into no-till corn-soybean rotation on soil physical and biological properties in a southeastern US agro-ecosystem. Long-term integration of winter cover crops and soil amendments is a sustainable practice for crop production in Upland soil. Combined effects broiler litter and winter cover crop promotes soil biological properties. Interactive effect of cover crop and organic amendment improve soil physical properties. Co-application of FGD gypsum with broiler litter minimizes solubility of P on the soil surface and improves crop N utilization.

Technical Abstract: Upland soils characterized as marginal in organic matter are vulnerable to erosion. A field study was conducted on an upland soil to determine the integration effects of winter cover crops (WCCs), broiler litter (BL) and flue gas desulfurization (FGD) gypsum into no-till (NT) corn-soybean rotation on soil physical and biological properties. The experimental design was split-plot with three replications. The WCCs residue was assigned to the main plots and fertilization treatments as sub-plots. Fertilization treatments included unfertilized control, inorganic N fertilizer, BL alone and BL + FGD gypsum applied to corn every other year. After harvest, soil samples were collected and analyzed for total C (TC) and selected physical and biological properties. In the top 5 cm soil depth, the residual effects of WCCs significantly increased TC, dissolved organic C (DOC), and cumulative infiltration by 17, 16 and 6% and reduced soil P, bulk density (BD) and penetration resistance (PR) by 32, 3 and 6%, respectively as compared to winter fallow. Averaged across WCCs treatments, BL increased soil TC, DOC, P and cumulative infiltration by 39, 40, 60 and 28%, and reduced BD and PR by 3 and 24%, respectively. Co-application of FGD gypsum with BL reduced P, DOC, BD and PR at 5 cm soil depth by 20, 12, 4 and 22%, respectively. Interestingly, BL did not affect soil microbiological parameters, but co-application of FGD gypsum with BL resulted in a significant response in soil dehydrogenase activity. On the other hand, cover crop increased ureC genes, probably due to increased soil moisture by crop residues year-round. The results indicated integration of WCCs and BL into no-till corn-soybean rotation improved soil physical, hydrological and microbial properties.