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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract - DIVISION S-6-SOIL & WATER MANAGEMENT & CONSERVATION

Carbon and Nitrogen Conservation in Dryland Tillage and Cropping Systems


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 63 No. 5, p. 1359-1366
    Received: Aug 24, 1998

    * Corresponding author(s): hschomberg@ag.gov
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  1. Harry H. Schomberg *a and
  2. Ordie R. Jonesb
  1. a USDA-ARS, J.P. Campbell, Sr., Natural Resources Conservation Center, 1420 Experiment Station Rd., Watkinsville, GA, 30677-2373 USA
    b USDA-ARS, Conservation and Production Research Lab., Bushland, TX USA


Soil C and N greatly influence long-term sustainability of agricultural systems. We hypothesized that cropping and tillage differentially influence dryland soil C and N characteristics in the Southern High Plains. A Pullman clay loam (fine, mixed, thermic Torrertic Paleustol) cropped to wheat (Triticum aestivum L.)–sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench]–fallow (WSF), continuous wheat (CW) and continuous sorghum (CS) under no-tillage (NT), and stubble mulch (SM) was sampled at three depths to determine soil C and N characteristics. For CW, CS, and WSF phases (FWSF, SWSF, WWSF), soil organic C (SOC) averaged 10.6 to 13.1 kg m−3 and was greatest for CW. Carbon mineralization (CMIN) at 0 to 20 mm was 30 to 40% greater for CW and FWSF than for CS, SWSF, or WWSF Cropping system by depth influenced soil organic N (SON) with greatest SON at 0 to 20 mm in CW (1.5 kg m−3). At 0 to 20 mm for SM and NT, SOC was 9.9 and 12.5 kg m−3, soil microbial biomass C (SMBC) was 0.80 and 1.1 kg m−3, and soil microbial biomass N (SMBN) was 0.14 and 0.11 kg m−3 Also at 0 to 20 mm, NT had 60% greater CMIN, 11% more SMBC as a portion SOC, and 25% more SON compared to SM. Summed for 0 to 80 mm, NT had more SOC (0.98 vs 0.85 kg m−2) and SON (0.10 vs 0.9 kg m−2) than SM, and CW had greater or equal C and N activity as other systems. Negative correlations between yield and SOC, SMBC, CMIN, SON, and SMBN indicate N removal in grain negatively affects active and labile C and N pools. Under dryland conditions, C and N conservation is greater with NT and with winter wheat because of less soil disturbance and shorter fallow.

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