Deep soil carbon after 44 years of tillage and fertilizer management in southern Illinois compared to forest and restored prairie soils

M. K. Walia, S. G. Baer, R. Krausz, R. L. Cook

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

No-till (NT) management can reduce soil erosion and increase soil carbon (C) in agricultural systems, but there is less certainty regarding deeper soil and how long-term tillage and fertilization practices compare to other land-use systems. The objective of this study was to quantify tillage and fertilizer management effects after 44 years (20 years in continuous corn [Zea mays L.] and 24 years in corn-soybean [Glycine max L.] rotation) on bulk density and soil C concentrations and stocks to a 1 m (3.3 ft) depth in a somewhat poorly drained Bethalto silt loam near Belleville, Illinois, and compare to nearby forest and restored prairie soils. Four tillage (moldboard plow, chisel tillage [ChT], alternate tillage, and NT) and five fertilizer (no fertilization control, nitrogen [N]-only, N + N-phosphorus-potassium [NPK] starter, NPK + NPKstarter, and NPK broadcast) treatments showed bulk density was lower in NT than moldboard plow treatments in 0 to 15 (0 to 6 in) and 25 to 50 cm (10 to 20 in) depths. Complete NPK treatments generally resulted in higher C stocks than N-only and control treatments from 0 to 25 cm (0 to 10 in), but no differences were detected from 25 to 100 cm (10 to 39 in) or 0 to 100 cm (0 to 39 in) due to fertilizer. No-till management increased C stocks compared to tillage treatments for 0 to 15 cm (0 to 6 in) and was greater than the ChT treatment for 0 to 100 cm (0 to 39 in). No-till/NPK maintained greater cumulative soil C stocks to 1 m than either undisturbed forest soils or restored prairie soils. Additionally, NT/NPK had the maximum soil C increase over time of 0.36 Mg C ha-1 y-1 (0.16 tn C ac-1 yr-1) for the top 15 cm (6 in) over 44 years.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)405-415
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Soil and Water Conservation
Volume72
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2017

Keywords

  • Bulk Density-carbon Stocks-fertilizer-forest Soils-prairie Restored Soils-tillage

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