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

Surface Soil Physical Properties After Twelve Years of Dryland No-Till Management


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 66 No. 4, p. 1296-1303
    Received: July 20, 2001

    * Corresponding author(s): tshaver@lamar.colostate.edu
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  1. T. M. Shaver *a,
  2. G. A. Petersona,
  3. L. R. Ahujab,
  4. D. G. Westfalla,
  5. L. A. Sherrodb and
  6. G. Dunnb
  1. a Dep. of Soil and Crop Sciences, Colorado State Univ., Fort Collins, CO 80523
    b Great Plains Systems Research Unit, USDA-ARS, P.O. Box E, Fort Collins, CO 80522


Water is the principle limiting factor in dryland cropping systems. Surface soil physical properties influence infiltration and cropping systems under no-till management may affect these properties through residue addition. The objectives of this study were: (i) to determine how cropping intensity and topographic position affect soil bulk density, porosity, sorptivity, and aggregate stability in the surface 2.5 cm of soils at three eastern Colorado sites; and (ii) to relate these properties to crop residue returned to the soil surface. No-till cropping systems had been in place on three slope positions, at three sites, for 12 yr prior to this study. Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.)-corn (Zea mays L.)-fallow (WCF) and continuous cropping (CC) systems were compared with wheat-fallow (WF) on summit and toeslope positions at two sites (Sterling and Stratton), and at the third site (Walsh) wheat-sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench]-fallow (WSF) replaced WCF. Cropping systems (CC and WCF or WSF) that returned more crop residue decreased bulk density and increased total and effective porosities compared with WF. Site and slope positions that produced more crop residue also improved these properties. However, sorptivity developed no significant differences as a result of cropping system. Macroaggregates made up a higher percentage of total aggregates in CC and WCF or WSF compared with WF in proportion to residue added and were also a function of clay content of the soil at different sites and slope positions. These factors enhance the potential for greater infiltration and hence greater water availability for crops.

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Copyright © 2002. Soil Science SocietyPublished in Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J.66:1296–1303.