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Mediterranean Dryland Farming: Effect of Tillage Practices on Selected Soil Properties


This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 103 No. 2, p. 382-389
    Received: May 6, 2010

    * Corresponding author(s): lammerding@inia.es
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  1. Diana Martin Lammerding *a,
  2. Chiquinquirá Hontoriab,
  3. Jose Luis Tenorioc and
  4. Ingrid Walterd
  1. a Departamento de Medio Ambiente, INIA, Ctra de La Coruña km 7.5, 28040 Madrid, Spain
    b Departamento de Edafología, ETSIA-UPM, Avda Complutense s/n, 28040 Madrid, Spain
    c Departamento de Medio Ambiente, INIA, Ctra de La Coruña km 7.5, 28040 Madrid, Spain
    d Departamento de Medio Ambiente, INIA, Ctra de La Coruña km 7.5, 28040 Madrid, Spain


It is widely accepted that conservation tillage management affords benefits to soil properties and reduces production costs; therefore these practices could be attractive to farmers from semiarid regions. The objective of this study was to assess the long-term effects of different tillage practices under semiarid conditions on macroaggregate stability (water stable aggregates, WSA), soil organic carbon (SOC), and particulate organic carbon (C-POM) content of an Alfisol from Spain. The experimental design involved a split plot and four randomized blocks in which tillage was the main factor and crop rotation (fallow–wheat–pea–barley) the secondary factor. Three tillage systems were compared: no tillage (NT), minimum tillage (MT), and conventional tillage (CT). Soil samples were collected on November 2006 and October 2007. In November 2006 no significant differences in WSA were found among the tillage treatments. In October 2007, however, the mean WSA in the upper soil layer for the NT was significantly higher, 24%, that in the CT. No significant differences were seen for the subsurface layer. Under NT, the SOC and C-POM values for the surface soil layer were significantly higher than those for the other treatments on both sampling dates. At the subsurface depth, no significant differences were seen in either of these variables. The SOC and C-POM values were more homogeneous throughout the soil profile in the plowed soil than in the NT for which the corresponding values were more stratified. The results show that NT will help improve soil structure and soil fertility, which is particularly relevant to semiarid conditions like the area studied.

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Copyright © 2011. American Society of AgronomyCopyright © 2011 by the American Society of Agronomy