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This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 59 No. 5, p. 1311-1315
    Received: July 7, 1994

    * Corresponding author(s): angersd@em.agr.ca
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Dynamics of Soil Organic Matter and Corn Residues Affected by Tillage Practices

  1. D. A. Angers ,
  2. R. P. Voroney and
  3. D. Côté
  1. Soils and Crops Research Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 2560 Hochelaga Blvd., Ste-Foy, Québec, Canada G1V 2J3
    Dept. of Land Resource Science, Univ. of Guelph, ON, Canada N1G 2W1
    Service des Sols, MAPAQ, Québec, Canada G1P 3W8



This study was conducted to determine the influence of tillage practices on the decomposition of corn (Zea mays L.) residues and turnover of soil organic matter (SOM). Measurements of δ13C were made of the whole soil, the microbial biomass, and two particle-size fractions (<50 and >50 µm) in soils that had been under corn production for 11 yr and from an adjacent meadow. Meadow-derived C in total SOM (0–24 cm) decreased under corn cropping at the same rate under all tillage treatments. Corn-derived C was evenly distributed with depth in the moldboard plow treatment and accumulated at the surface in the shallow, reduced-tillage treatments. The incorporation of corn residue C into SOM in the 0- to 24-cm layer was not significantly affected by tillage and was estimated to be ≈41 g C m−2 yr−1, which represents ≈30% of the corn residue inputs. Both the macroorganic matter (>50 µm) and microbial biomass had a greater enrichment (up to 35%) in corn-derived C than either the whole soil or the microorganic matter (<50 µm), indicating that these pools are important recipients of plant residue inputs. Nevertheless, the microorganic matter was also a significant sink for C input, acounting for ≈50% of the total corn-derived C remaining in the surface (0–8 cm) soil. Under the conditions of this study, tillage practices influenced the vertical distribution of SOM and corn residues but had no detectable effect on SOM turnover and on the fate of corn residues when the whole Ap horizon was considered.

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