Soil Physical and Biological Properties as Affected by Land Leveling in a Clayey Aquert
- Kristofor R. Brye *,
- Nathan A. Slaton and
- Richard J. Norman
Land leveling is a government-subsidized, water-conserving agricultural practice common in the Mississippi River Delta region of the midsouthern United States. Though practiced to more uniformly deliver irrigation water, land leveling is a severe soil disturbance that alters the quasi-equilibrium among near-surface soil biogeochemical properties. The objectives of this study were to characterize the short-term impacts of land leveling on the magnitude, variance, and spatial variability and distributions of soil physical and biological properties and to evaluate the impact of land leveling on the relationships among soil properties in a Sharkey clay (very-fine, smectitic, thermic Chromic Epiaquert) used for irrigated soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] and rice (Oryza sativa L.) production in the Mississippi Delta region of northeast Arkansas. Bulk density and clay increased (P < 0.001), while sand, silt, fungal biomass, and fungal/bacterial biomass ratio decreased (P < 0.001) as a result of land leveling. Despite the effect on the fungal/bacterial biomass ratio, hence a significant alteration of the soil microbial community structure, soil bacterial biomass was unaffected by land leveling. The variance associated with silt increased (P < 0.01), while the variance for fungal biomass and the fungal/bacterial biomass ratio increased (P < 0.001) as a result of land leveling. Spatial variability and distributions of soil physical and biological properties and relationships among them were noticeably altered by land leveling. Increased variations in soil physical and biological properties as a result of any soil disturbance will make uniform field management difficult. Compared to a similar study, the magnitudes of near-surface soil physical and biological property change as a result of land leveling were lower on a clayey Vertisol than on a silt-loam Alfisol.Please view the pdf by using the Full Text (PDF) link under 'View' to the left.
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