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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Fayetteville, Arkansas » Poultry Production and Product Safety Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #381945

Research Project: Quantifying Air and Water Quality Benefits of Improved Poultry Manure Management Practices

Location: Poultry Production and Product Safety Research

Title: Soil quality assessment of an agroforestry system following long-term management in the Ozark Highlands

item YLAGAN, SHANE - University Of Arkansas
item AMORIM, AMANDA - Universidade Federal De Lavras
item Ashworth, Amanda
item SAUER, THOMAS - Universidade Federal De Lavras
item Wienhold, Brian
item Owens, Phillip
item BRYE, KRIS - University Of Arkansas

Submitted to: Agrosystems, Geosciences & Environment
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/21/2021
Publication Date: 8/17/2021
Citation: Yiagan, S., Amorim, A.J., Ashworth, A.J., Sauer, T.J., Wienhold, B.J., Owens, P.R., Brye, K. 2021. Soil quality assessment of an agroforestry system following long-term management in the Ozark Highlands. Agrosystems, Geosciences & Environment. 4(3). Article e20194.

Interpretive Summary: Agroforestry is a conservation land management practice that has continued to gain attention and appeal for the practice’s multiple benefits in terms of soil carbon storage and dual production usage (livestock, nuts/fruits, biofuel, and lumber). Researchers investigated the impacts of long-term management practices on soil health and quality using a framework named "Soil Management Assessment Framework" or SMAF. Although SMAF has grown in versatility and applicability in cropping systems, SMAF application in AF systems is very limited, thus using SMAF to quantify soil quality is a novel approach for identifying how management i.e., tree species and fertility source (inorganic fertilizers and poultry litter) influences dynamic soil quality properties. Researchers found that tree species respond differently to poultry litter and synthetic nitrogen, thus influencing soil quality long-term. This information can be valuable for agroforestry managers for identifying optimum fertility sources per tree species to improve soil quality in agroforesty systems.

Technical Abstract: The Soil Management Assessment Framework (SMAF) is a quantitative soil quality (SQ) evaluation tool that is widely applied to assess soil responses to specific agricultural management practices over time. Considering the reported SQ benefits of agroforestry (AF) systems and the potential usefulness of SMAF, the objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of tree species [pecan (Carya illinoinensis {Wangenh.} K. Koch) and northern red oak (Quercus rubra L.)], soil fertility source [poultry litter (PL) and inorganic nitrogen (N) fertilizer (control)], and soil depth (0-15 and 15-30 cm) on SMAF-derived SQ indices after 17 years of management at an AF site in northwest Arkansas. Averaged across soil depth, soil organic carbon score under red oak with PL application had a lower score (0.48) compared to under red oak with inorganic-N fertilizer applications (0.60) and under pecan with PL application (0.60), which did not differ from that under pecan with inorganic-N fertilizer application (0.51). Averaged across soil depth, the soil quality index (SQI) of soils under pecan that received PL applications was 1.1 times greater than that under red oak receiving PL and soils under pecan receiving inorganic-N fertilizer. Soil quality assessments in AF systems are novel as SMAF has not been used in these systems. Results of this study demonstrate that soils planted under various tree species respond dissimilarly to fertilizer sources and that agroforestry management may improve overall SQ.