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Cropping system influences on soil chemical properties and soil quality in the Great Plains

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 February 2007

M.M. Mikha*
Affiliation:
USDA-ARS, Akron, CO, 80720, USA.
M.F. Vigil
Affiliation:
USDA-ARS, Akron, CO, 80720, USA.
M.A. Liebig
Affiliation:
USDA-ARS, Mandan, ND, 58554, USA.
R.A. Bowman
Affiliation:
USDA-ARS, Akron, CO, 80720, USA.
B. McConkey
Affiliation:
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Swift Current, SK, Canada, S9H 3X2.
E.J. Deibert
Affiliation:
North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND, 58105, USA.
J.L. Pikul Jr
Affiliation:
USDA-ARS, Brookings, SD, 57006, USA.
*
*Corresponding author: Maysoon.Mikha@ars.usda.gov

Abstract

Soil management and cropping systems have long-term effects on agronomic and environmental functions. This study examined the influence of contrasting management practices on selected soil chemical properties in eight long-term cropping system studies throughout the Great Plains and the western Corn Belt. For each study, soil organic C (SOC), total N (TN), particulate organic matter (POM), inorganic N, electrical conductivity (EC), and soil pH were evaluated at 0–7.5, 7.5–15, and 15–30 cm within conventional (CON) and alternative (ALT) cropping systems for 4 years (1999–2002). Treatment effects were primarily limited to the surface 7.5 cm of soil. No-tillage (NT) and/or elimination of fallow in ALT cropping systems resulted in significantly (P<0.05) greater SOC and TN at 0–7.5 cm within five of the eight study sites [Akron, Colorado (CO); Bushland, Texas (TX); Fargo, North Dakota (ND); Mandan, ND; and Swift Current, Saskatchewan (SK), Canada]. The same pattern was observed with POM, where POM was significantly (P<0.05) greater at four of the eight study sites [Bushland, TX, Mandan, ND, Sidney, Montana (MT), and Swift Current, SK]. No consistent pattern was observed with soil EC and pH due to management, although soil EC explained almost 60% of the variability in soil NO3-N at 0–7.5 cm across all locations and sampling times. In general, chemical soil properties measured in this study consistently exhibited values more conducive to crop production and environmental quality in ALT cropping systems relative to CON cropping systems.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2006

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