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This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 68 No. 3, p. 817-826
    Received: Feb 21, 2003

    * Corresponding author(s): dmorris@saa.ars.usda.gov
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Oxidation Potentials of Soil Organic Matter in Histosols under Different Tillage Methods

  1. D. R. Morris *a,
  2. R. A. Gilbertb,
  3. D. C. Reicoskyc and
  4. R. W. Geschc
  1. a USDA-ARS, Sugarcane Field Station, 12990 U.S. Hwy. 441, Canal Point, FL 33438
    b Everglades Research and Education Center, Univ. of Florida, 3200 East Palm Beach Road, Belle Glade, FL 33430
    c USDA-ARS, North Central Soil Conservation Research Laboratory, 803 Iowa Ave., Morris, MN 56267


Organic soils in the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) of southern Florida, USA, are subsiding due primarily to oxidation by aerobic microorganisms. Since there are large C losses in drained Histosols, it is not certain if minimum tillage will significantly reduce soil C losses below the background levels. The objective of this experiment was to determine if increasing the surface soil disturbance through tillage significantly increases the soil organic matter oxidation potential (OP) in Histosols. Tillage treatments from lowest to highest soil disturbance consisted of (i) no-till; (ii) tine implement cultivation, one pass; (iii) tine implement cultivation, two passes; (iv) heavy harrow disking; and (v) switchplowing. Treatments were conducted on two fields (bare fallow and plant residue covered). Surface soil samples (0–15 cm) and all microbial measurements were taken on 0, 1, 4, 13, 28, and 42 d after tillage. The switchplow treatment had the greatest OP (14C oxidation of benzoate) and soil microbial CO2 respiration (RESP) averaged across the 42-d period compared with the other treatments. No-till tended to have the lowest OP and RESP. Other tillage treatment effects were intermediate depending on field type. Correlation analyses indicated that greater quantities of extractable N (EXN) were related to increased OP in both fields, while higher quantities of extractable C (EXC) were related to increased RESP in both fields. This research demonstrates that minimum tillage can be used on Histosols to reduce C loss and thereby reduce soil subsidence.

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