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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract -

Sensitivity of Soil Enzyme Activities to Conservation Practices


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 62 No. 5, p. 1286-1295
    Received: Feb 11, 1997

    * Corresponding author(s): monrealc@em.agr.ca
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  1. D. W. Bergstrom,
  2. C. M. Monreal  and
  3. D. J. King
  1. Land Resource Unit, Brandon Research Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Room 362, Ellis Building, Univ. of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB, Canada R3T 2N2
    Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 70 Fountain St. E., Guelph, ON, Canada N1H 3N6



There is a need to assess changes in soil quality resulting from introduction of conservation practices. This study tested for an effect of tillage practice and crop rotation on activity of six soil enzymes (dehydrogenase, urease, glutaminase, phosphatase, arylsulfatase, and β-glucosidase). Samples of the Ap horizon were collected from adjacent no-till and tilled fields. At one site, fields were located on a simple, single slope averaging 4%, and differed in previous cropping history. The second site included coarse- and fine-textured soils at lower and upper slope positions, respectively. Enzyme activities of field-moist samples were measured during two growing seasons, and maximum reaction velocity (Vmax) values were estimated for three enzymes on a subset of air-dry samples. At the first site, implementation of no-till and previous cropping to forages increased activity of all enzymes. At the second site, there was no consistent response of enzyme activities to tillage practice in the coarse-textured soils, which had relatively large total C content. In the fine-textured soil, activity of phosphatase and arylsulfatase, and dehydrogenase in the surface (0–8 cm) layer, was greater in the no-till field. At this location, these enzyme activities were more sensitive than total C (TC) concentration to tillage practice. Slope position and time and depth of sampling influenced enzyme activities and affected management comparisons.

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