Influence of long-term corn-soybean crop sequences on soil ecology as indicated by the nematode community

Zane J. Grabau, Senyu Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


In the Midwestern United States, corn-soybean rotation is an essential agricultural practice, but relatively little is known about the impact of different corn-soybean cropping sequences on soil ecology. A long-term research site in Waseca, Minnesota was established in 1982 to study corn-soybean rotation. At the site, various corn-soybean crop sequences can be compared each year including corn and soybean in 1 to 5 years of monoculture and continuous monoculture of each crop. Additionally, granular nematicides (terbufos or aldicarb) have been applied to half of each plot since 2010 to minimize nematode populations, particularly plant-parasitic nematodes, across crop sequences. The nematode community, a sensitive indicator of changes in soil ecology, was assessed at this site to determine the impact of corn-soybean crop sequences and nematicide application on the soil ecosystem. Nematicide application was effective against target nematodes, herbivores, but also impacted non-target nematodes and thus soil ecology. Nematicide application decreased fungivore and bacterivore populations, diversity, and maturity; but significantly increased enrichment compared to no nematicide application. The nematode community and thus soil ecology was significantly different in corn compared to soybean cropping systems and changed most during initial years after switching crops. Cropping systems in corn supported significantly greater fungivore populations, fungal decomposition pathways, more diversity, and a more mature ecosystem compared to soybean systems. Soybean systems supported significantly greater bacterivore populations and a more disturbed, enriched ecosystem. These differences between corn and soybean systems demonstrate that each crop has a distinct impact on the soil ecosystem.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)172-185
Number of pages14
JournalApplied Soil Ecology
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was partially supported by Minnesota Soybean Producers Check-off Funding through the Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council and Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station . Thanks to Cathy Johnson, Wayne Gottschalk, and Jeff Ballman for technical assistance.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier B.V.


  • Corn
  • Crop rotation
  • Nematode community
  • Soil ecology
  • Soybean


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