Submitted to: Western Society of Soil Science
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/1/1996
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Burning is one of many residue management tools that eliminates the excessive seedbed tillage operations normally required to reduce residues and control weeds and diseases in continuous winter wheat production. Burning followed by intensive tillage can result in excessive soil erosion, loss of organic matter and degradation of soil quality. Burn/low-till may be of particular importance in areas of high post-harvest residue. Currently, we have little research knowledge base for assessing soil quality differences between burn/low-till and conventional tillage and for developing management practices to retain or enhance soil quality benefits. Assessing the differences in soil quality between these systems is a unique opportunity to compare these management practices. We have monitored changes in soil biological and chemical parameters. Soil pH, electrical conductivity, organic matter, microbial biomass, readily-mineralized carbon, and fatty acid analysis (to determine community structure) were conducted. While these soil quality parameters were similar between the two treatments, the data indicated a tendency for greater carbon sequestration in the burn/low-till than the no-burn, tilled comparisons. Changes in microbial community structure were evident between the two management strategies. This research will provide growers with greater management options for cereal production, while reducing soil erosion and enhancing soil quality on highly erodible lands.