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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract - Soil & Water Management & Conservation

Short-term Versus Continuous Chisel and No-till Effects on Soil Carbon and Nitrogen


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 70 No. 2, p. 419-425
    Received: Mar 19, 2005

    * Corresponding author(s): tvyn@purdue.edu
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  1. Rex A. Omonodea,
  2. Anita Gala,
  3. Diane E. Stottb,
  4. T. Scott Abneyc and
  5. Tony J. Vyn *a
  1. a Dep. of Agronomy, Purdue Univ., Lilly Hall of Life Sciences, West Lafayette, IN 47907
    b USDA-ARS, National Soil Erosion Research Lab., West Lafayette, IN 47907
    c Dep. of Botany and Plant Pathology, Purdue Univ., Lilly Hall of Life Sciences, West Lafayette, In 47907


For various reasons, North American crop farmers are more likely to practice limited-duration no-till than continuous no-till (NT). Little is known about effects of short-term no-till (ST-NT) on organic C and total N relative to NT and conventional-till systems. A field experiment was initiated in 1980 to study the effects of NT, chisel plow (CP), and moldboard plow in continuous corn (CC; Zeamays L.) and soybean (Glycinemax L.)–corn (SC) rotations on dark prairie soil. In 1996, the moldboard treatments were split into a ST-NT subplot and an intermittently chisel-plowed (STI-CP) subplot that was chiseled only before corn. In 2003, soil samples were taken incrementally to the 1.0-m depth from NT, CP, ST-NT, and STI-CP plots. Soil C and N accumulation was unaffected by rotation system at any depth interval. Tillage treatments significantly affected soil C and N concentrations only in the upper 50 cm. On an equivalent soil mass basis, C storage to 1.0 m after 24 yr totaled 151 Mg ha−1 in continuous NT, but just 108 Mg ha−1 in continuous CP. Short-term no-till and STI-CP systems resulted in 26 and 21 Mg ha−1, respectively, more soil C than CP. Total N storage was similar for NT and ST-NT systems, but was significantly lower (4 Mg ha−1 less) with CP. Our results suggest that the combination of moldboard plowing (17 yr) followed by short-term (6–7 yr) no-till or intermittent chisel was generally superior to continuous chisel plowing (24 yr) in soil C and N contents.

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