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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract - SOIL BIOLOGY & BIOCHEMSITRY

Corn-Soybean Sequence and Tillage Effects on Soil Carbon Dynamics and Storage


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 71 No. 1, p. 145-154
    Received: July 14, 2005

    * Corresponding author(s): dhuggins@wsu.edu
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  1. D. R. Huggins *,
  2. R. R. Allmaras (deceased),
  3. C. E. Clapp,
  4. J. A. Lamb and
  5. G. W. Randall
  1. U SDA-ARS, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164
    U SDA-ARS, Dep. of Soil, Water and Climate, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN 55108
    D ep. of Soil, Water and Climate, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN, 55108
    S outhern Minnesota Res. and Ext. Center, University of Minnesota, Waseca, MN, 56093


Soil organic carbon (SOC) in agroecosystems is regulated by crop rotation and soil disturbance. We assessed crop sequence and tillage effects on SOC dynamics and storage using natural 13C abundance of corn (Zea mays L.) and soybean [Glycine max (L.), Merr.]. Treatments consisted of tillage: moldboard plow (MP), chisel plow (CP), and no-tillage (NT); and crop sequence: continuous corn (CC), continuous soybean (SS), and alternating corn–soybean (CS). Soil samples were collected after 14 yr in each treatment and in fallow alley-ways and were analyzed for SOC, δ13C, bulk density, and pH. Tillage by crop sequence interactions occurred as treatments with MP and SS as well as fallow averaged 135 Mg SOC ha−1 (0- to 45-cm depth), while CP treatments with corn (CC and CS) and NT with CC averaged 164 Mg SOC ha−1 Crop sequence effects on SOC (0- to 45-cm depth) occurred when tillage was reduced with CP and NT averaging 15% greater SOC in CC than SS. In addition to less C inputs than CC, SS accelerated rates of SOC decomposition. Tillage effects on SOC were greatest in CC where CP had 26% and NT 20% more SOC than MP, whereas SOC in SS was similar across tillage treatments. Up to 33% of the greater SOC under CC for CP and NT, compared with MP, occurred below tillage operating depths. Substantial losses of SOC were estimated (1.6 Mg SOC ha−1 yr−1) despite lowering SOC decay rates with reduced tillage and high levels of C inputs with CC.

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