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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract -

Decomposition and Nitrogen Dynamics of Crop Residues: Residue Quality and Water Effects


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 58 No. 2, p. 372-381
    Received: Mar 5, 1993

    * Corresponding author(s):
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  1. H. H. Schomberg ,
  2. J. L. Steiner and
  3. P. W. Unger
  1. USDA-ARS Conservation and Production Research Lab., P.O. Drawer 10, Bushland, TX 79012



Understanding environmental and residue influences on decomposition and nutrient dynamics under diverse conditions is critical for efficient resource management. Our objective was to evaluate the influence of water on decomposition and N dynamics for surface and buried residues. Decomposition of alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.), grain sorghum (Sorghum bicolor [L.] Moench), and winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L. emend. Thell.) residues in fiberglass bags on the surface or buried at 120 mm in Pullman soil (fine, mixed, thermic Torrertic Paleustoll) at Bushland, TX, was measured from May 1990 to May 1991. A line-source sprinkler provided five water regimes (336, 287, 166, 60, and 5 mm) while precipitation provided 305 mm water. Decomposition coefficients (k) were greater for alfalfa than for wheat or grain sorghum and were greater for buried than for surface residues. Rate coefficients increased linearly with water applied. The increase was greater for alfalfa than for sorghum and wheat. Net N mineralization occurred from alfalfa residues throughout the study. Net N immobilization was longer than 1 yr for surface wheat and sorghum and about 0.33 yr for buried residues. Both Nmax (grams N immobilized per kilogram of original biomass) and Neqv (grams N immobilized per kilogram of biomass loss) were influenced by crop and placement but not water regime. The Nmax value was similar for surface wheat and sorghum residues but was 50% lower for buried wheat than for sorghum. The Neqv indicated the N requirement of microorganisms was less for buried than for surface residues. Water and residue quality interactions affecting decomposition and N dynamics should be considered in residue management strategies for soil protection and nutrient cycling.

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