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SSSAJ Research Highlights

Straw Mulching Enhances Soil Carbon and Maize Yield

Mulching is widely used to conserve soil water and enhance dryland maize yield in the southern and southeastern Asia. However, its effect on soil carbon sequestration and microbial biomass and activity is not well understood.

Undergraduate Soil Science Education Trends

 

There was considerable concern about the direction of soil science education in the USA at the beginning of the 21st century, particularly in regards to declining enrollment. However, there is very little work looking at enrollment trends in individual classes or evaluating the academic majors of students who are taking soil science coursework.

Straw Mulching Enhances Soil Carbon and Maize Yield

 

Mulching is widely used to conserve soil water and enhance dryland maize yield in the southern and southeastern Asia. However, its effect on soil carbon sequestration and microbial biomass and activity is not well understood.

In the March-April issue of the Soil Science Society of America Journal, researchers report the results of a five-year study of straw and plastic film mulching on soil carbon sequestration, microbial biomass and activity, and dryland maize yield in the Loess Plateau of China.

Choose Your Cover Crop Wisely

 

Cover crops can benefit production agriculture, particularly by providing nutrients accumulated or fixed during winter and early spring to the cash crop. However, understanding rates of nutrient release from different cover crop species will be critical to time termination to optimize nutrient availability and reduce potential losses.

Irrigating Blueberry in Pine Bark Amended Soils

 

In central Florida, blueberries are raised in 30-cm high pine bark beds over native sandy soil. Despite having a high C:N ratio (300:1), pine bark continually degrades to less than 15 cm in less than 5 years. This degradation is due to high doses of nitrogen fertilizer and high summer temperatures coupled with frequent irrigations and summer rainfall.  A constant irrigation schedule over five years is not helpful as blueberry root-zone depth decreases continually reducing plant available water.

Subsoil Carbon Sink in Oxisols

 

Interactions between organic matter (OM) and reactive minerals (e.g., Al-/Fe-(hydr)oxides) are among the most relevant mechanisms leading to terrestrial C storage. Such protective mechanisms are more operative within the soil fraction exhibiting particle-size smaller than 53 microns (µm), that is, silt- and clay-sized particles. However, little is known about the extent by which the ability of reactive minerals to form associations with OM varies as a function of soil depth.

Soil Health Change with Row-crop to Sod Transition

 

Organic row cropping regularly uses intense tillage. Pausing tillage with the inclusion of grass-legume sod could improve soil health, making this rotation change ideal for a more sustainable agriculture. However, published work documenting the beneficial changes is limited.

Comparing Extractants in Estimating Potassium Availability

 

Potassium (K) fertilizer recommendations based on preplant soil tests are critical in ensuring crop yield and quality and minimizing fertilizer costs. Since no soil test procedure has been interpreted using an effective soil test extractant, K recommendations are not available for crops, including tomato, grown on calcareous soils in Florida.