Long-term tillage and crop rotation effects on soil quality, organic carbon, and total nitrogen

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Canadian Science Publishing

Long-term studies allow for quantification of the effects of crop production practices, such as tillage and crop rotation, on soil quality and soil C and N stores. In two experiments at Ridgetown, ON, we evaluated the long-term (11 and 15 yr) effect of tillage system and crop rotation on soil quality via the Cornell Soil Health Assessment (CSHA) at 0 15 cm and soil organic C (SOC) and total N at 5-, 10-, and 20-cm increments to 120 cm depth. The CSHA soil quality score and SOC and total N were higher with no-till(NT) than fall moldboard plough with spring cultivation (conventional tillage, CT) and rotations with winter wheat[soybean-winter wheat (S-W) and soybean-winter wheat-corn (S-W-C)] compared with rotations without winter wheat.In both long-term trials, NT had ca. 21 Mg ha-1 more or 14% higher SOC than CT in the 0- to 100-cm soil profile, a trend which contrasts previous research in eastern Canada. Thus, the two long-term trial results at Ridgetown suggest that to improve soil quality and storage of C and N, growers on clay loam soil in southwestern Ontario should consider adopting NT production practices and including winter wheat in the rotation.

Cornell Soil Health Assessment, continuous corn, Ridgetown, no-tillage, moldboard plow/plough tillage, soybean-winter wheat-corn crop rotations
Van Eerd, L., Congreves, K., Verhallen, A., Hayes, A., & Hooker, D. (2014). Long-term tillage and crop rotation effects on soil quality, organic carbon, and total nitrogen. Canadian Journal of Soil Science, 140505045536003–. https://doi.org/10.4141/CJSS-2013-093