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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract -

Wheat Fallow Tillage Systems' Effect on a Newly Cultivated Grassland Soils' Nitrogen Budget1


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 49 No. 2, p. 352-356
    Received: Apr 2, 1984
    Accepted: Nov 12, 1984

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  1. J. A. Lamb,
  2. G. A. Peterson and
  3. C. R. Fenster2



The objective of this study was to examine soil nitrogen (N) losses from grassland soil as affected by time since the beginning of cultivation. A native grassland site was cultivated for winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) production in a crop-fallow rotation under three tillage systems; no-till, stubble mulch, and plow (bare fallow). The experiment was located in Western Nebraska on a Duroc loam (fine silty, mixed, mesic, Pachic Haplustolls). After 12 yr of cultivation, losses of soil N from the 0 to 30 cm depth were 3% for no-till, 8% for stubble mulch, and 19% for the plow tillages. Potential loss by erosion was small because of protection from wind by the surrounding grasslands. These results suggest decreased stirring of the soil resulted in major N savings beyond erosion losses. The sum of NO3-N greater than that found below the sod control plus crop removal of N accounted for essentially all of the soil N lost from stubble mulch and plow tillages. In the no-till environment, crop removal of N and leached NO3-N accounted for more N than had been lost from the soil since cultivation began. Plow tillage system resulted in leaching of 100 kg ha−1 more NO3-N than occurred with no-till or stubble mulch. Soil N in the 0-to 30-cm soil depth was fractionated into exchangeable NH+4-N, nonexchangeable NH+4-N, and nonhydrolyzable N. The nonexchangeable and exchangeable NH+4-N fractions were not affected by cultivation. The nonhydrolyzable N fraction was reduced by all forms of tillage and accounted for a substantial part of the soil N losses.

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