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This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 56 No. 3, p. 783-788
    Received: Mar 22, 1991

    * Corresponding author(s):
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Crop Rotation and Residue Management Effects on Soil Carbon and Microbial Dynamics

  1. H. P. Collins ,
  2. P. E. Rasmussen and
  3. C. L. Douglas Jr.
  1. W.K. Kellogg Biological Station, 3700 East Gull Lake Drive, Hickory Corners, MI 49060-9516
    USDA-ARS Columbia Plateau Conservation Research Center, Pendleton, OR 97801



Understanding microbial dynamics is important in the development of new management strategies to reverse declining organic-matter content and fertility of agricultural soils. To determine the effects of crop rotation, crop residue management, and N fertilization, we measured changes in microbial biomass C and N and populations of several soil microbial groups in long-term (58-yr) plots under different winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) crop rotations. Wheat-fallow treatments included: wheat straw incorporated (5 Mg ha−1), no N fertilization; wheat straw incorporated, 90 kg N ha−1; wheat straw fall burned, no N fertilization; and wheat straw incorporated, 11 Mg barnyard manure ha−1. Annual-crop treatments were: continuous wheat, straw incorporated, 90 kg N ha−1; wheat-pea (Pisum sativum L.) rotation (25 yr), wheat and pea straw incorporated, 90 kg N ha−1 applied to wheat; and continuous grass pasture. Total soil and microbial biomass C and N contents were significantly greater in annual-crop than wheat-fallow rotations, except when manure was applied. Microbial biomass C in annual-crop and wheat-fallow rotations averaged 50 and 25%, respectively, of that in grass pasture. Residue management significantly influenced the level of microbial biomass C; for example, burning residues reduced microbial biomass to 57% of that in plots receiving barnyard manure. Microbial C represented 4.3, 2.8, and 2.2% and microbial N 5.3, 4.9, and 3.3% of total soil C and N under grass pasture, annual cropping, and wheat-fallow, respectively. Both microbial counts and microbial biomass were higher in early spring than other seasons. Annual cropping significantly reduced declines in soil organic matter and soil microbial biomass.

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