Soil aggregate and particulate C and N under corn rotations: responses to management and correlations with yield

Anna M. Cates, Matthew D. Ruark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Soil aggregate and particulate organic matter (POM) C and N provide valuable insight into C cycling and storage, and are sensitive to management, but effect of these pools on corn yield is unknown. Methods: Corn yield, N uptake, and aggregate and POM C and N at 0–5, 5–25 and 25–50 cm were measured and correlated in continuous corn (Zea mays L.) (CC), strip-till corn/soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] (CS), and organically managed corn/soybean/wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) with green manure (CSW). Results: The POM differed only at 0–5 cm, where greater POM mass was found in CS than CC and CSW. Lower POM-C and POM-N was found in CSW than CC and CS. Overall, CSW had fewer macroaggregates (>250 μm) and associated C and N than CC and CS, but free silt and clay (<53 μm) and microaggregates (53–250 μm) were enriched in C and N in CSW. Yield and macroaggregate-occluded C and N were negatively correlated. Yield and 5–25 cm free silt and clay C were positively correlated. Conclusions: While organic matter in aggregate-occluded fractions is beneficial for soil C storage, it was correlated with lower grain yields, highlighting a potential tradeoff between yield and long-term C sequestration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)521-533
Number of pages13
JournalPlant and Soil
Volume415
Issue number1-2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017

Keywords

  • Carbon storage
  • Cropping systems
  • Soil organic matter dynamics

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