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Impact of cover crops and crop residue removal on soil quality, N dynamics, and processing tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) yield and quality

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Title: Impact of cover crops and crop residue removal on soil quality, N dynamics, and processing tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) yield and quality
Author: Chahal, Inderjot
Department: School of Environmental Sciences
Program: Environmental Sciences
Advisor: Van Eerd, Laura
Abstract: Crop residue removal negatively impacts the soil physical, chemical, and biological properties. Therefore, inclusion of cover crops (CC) in the cropping systems offers an opportunity for maintaining agroecosystem functionality and counterbalancing the negative effects of crop residue removal on soil quality. Despite the multifunctional role of CC to agroecosystems, the benefits to soil quality have not been well investigated. Therefore, a medium-term experiment, established in 2007 and repeated at an adjacent site in 2008, at University of Guelph, Ridgetown Campus was used to evaluate effects of CC (6-yr) and crop residue removal (3-yr) on soil quality (chemical, physical, and biological properties), nutrient cycling, and subsequent tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.)-winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) yields in a horticultural system in 2015 and 2016. This study is the first evaluation of comparisons between soil quality tests in a CC-based horticultural system in a temperate climate. Overall, our results indicated the positive influences of CC on soil quality where CCs had greater soil quality scores using comprehensive assessment of soil health (CASH), weighted soil quality test (WSQI), and Haney soil health test (HSHT) than the no CC control (no-CC). Among the three tested soil quality tests (CASH, HSHT, and WSQI), we recommend the WSQI as a more suitable and practical method for soil quality evaluation. An increase in the soil organic C (SOC) concentration with CC compared with no-CC indicates the potential of CCs to build stable pools of soil C. Cover crop induced temporal effects on labile pools of C and N were detected in our production system indicating the potential role of CC on nutrient cycling and microbial activity. Increases (15 to 28%) in tomato yields with CC than without CC further confirms the suitability of the tested CCs for increasing crop productivity in otherwise similar cropping systems. Study results indicate the long-term implications of CC on increasing soil and crop productivity.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10214/16100
Date: 2019-05
Rights: Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International
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Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International