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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract - SOIL & WATER MANAGEMENT & CONSERVATION

Full-Inversion Tillage and Organic Carbon Distribution in Soil Profiles: A Meta-Analysis


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 72 No. 5, p. 1370-1374
    Received: Sept 18, 2007

    * Corresponding author(s): angersd@agr.gc.ca
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  1. D. A. Angers * and
  2. N. S. Eriksen-Hamel
  1. Soils and Crops Research and Dev. Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 2560 Hochelaga Blvd., Québec, QC G1V 2J3, Canada


While the adoption of no-till (NT) usually leads to the accumulation of soil organic C (SOC) in the surface soil layers, a number of studies have shown that this effect is sometimes partly or completely offset by greater SOC content near the bottom of the plow layer under full-inversion tillage (FIT). Our purpose was to review the literature in which SOC profiles have been measured under paired NT and FIT situations. Only replicated and randomized studies directly comparing NT and FIT for >5 yr were considered. Profiles of SOC had to be measured to at least 30 cm. As expected, in most studies SOC content was significantly greater (P < 0.05) under NT than FIT in the surface soil layers. At the 21- to 25-cm soil depth, however, which corresponds to the mean plowing depth for the data set (23 cm), the average SOC content was significantly greater under FIT than NT. Moreover, under FIT, greater SOC content was observed just below the average depth of plowing (26–35 cm). On average, there was 4.9 Mg ha−1 more SOC under NT than FIT (P = 0.03). Overall, this difference in favor of NT increased significantly but weakly with the duration of the experiment (R 2 = 0.15, P = 0.05). The relative accumulation of SOC at depth under FIT could not be related to soil or climatic variables. Furthermore, the organic matter accumulating at depth under FIT appeared to be present in relatively stable form, but this hypothesis and the mechanisms involved require further investigation.

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