Effect of Water-Filled Pore Space on Carbon Dioxide and Nitrous Oxide Production in Tilled and Nontilled Soils1
- D. M. Linn and
- J. W. Doran2
The percentage of soil pore space filled with water (percent water-filled pores, % WFP), as determined by water content and total porosity, appears to be closely related to soil microbial activity under different tillage regimes. Soil incubated in the laboratory at 60% WFP supported maximum aerobic microbial activity as determined by CO2 production and O2 uptake. In the field, % WFP of surface no-tillage soils (0–75 mm) at four U.S. locations averaged 62% at time of sampling, whereas that for plowed soils was 44%. This difference in % WFP was reflected in 3.4 and 9.4 times greater CO2 and N2O production, respectively, from surface no-tillage soils over a 24-h period as compared to plowed soils. At a depth of 75 to 150 mm, % WFP values increased in both no-tillage and plowed soils, averaging approximately 70% for no tillage compared with 50 to 60% for plowed soils. Production of CO2 in the plowed soils was enhanced by the increased % WFP, resulting in little or no difference in CO2 production between tillage treatments. Nitrous oxide production, however, remained greater under no-tillage conditions. Substantially greater amounts of N2O were produced from the N-fertilized soils, regardless of tillage practice. Production of CO2 and N2O was primarily related to the % WFP of tillage treatments although, in several instances, soil-water-soluble C and NO-3 levels were important as well. Calculations of relative aerobic microbial activity between no-tillage and plowed soils, based on differences in % WFP relative to maximum activity at 60%, indicated linear relationships for CO2 and N2O production between WFP values of 30 to 70%. Below 60% WFP, water limits microbial activity, but above 60%, aerobic microbial activity decreases—apparently the result of reduced aeration.Please view the pdf by using the Full Text (PDF) link under 'View' to the left.
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