Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/29/1997
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Zero tillage management reduces soil disturbance and, therefore, may improve soil organic matter, aggregation and hydraulic properties leading to enhanced soil quality and sustained crop production. We determined changes in soil aggregation, soil organic carbon (SOC), soil microbial biomass (SMBC), moisture retention and infiltration in a loam and silt loam soil (Boralf or Luvisol) managed for 8-16 years under conventional shallow tillage (CT) and zero tillage (ZT) in northwestern Canada. Zero tillage under continuous spring cropping resulted in a significant improvement in surface soil structure and organic matter, water infiltration and storage. Water-stable macroaggregates (> 0.25 mm) and aggregate mean weight diameter were greater under ZT throughout the growing season than under CT. Concentration of SOC and SMBC tended to be greatest in macroaggregates and lowest in microaggregates (<0.25 mm). Our results suggest that long-term ZT can significantly improve soil structure, and potentially increase SOC sequestration and enhance soil quality.