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

Organic Matter and Water Stability of Field Aggregates Affected by Tillage in South Dakota


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 73 No. 1, p. 197-206
    Received: May 18, 2007

    * Corresponding author(s): joseph.pikul@ars.usda.gov
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  1. Joseph L. Pikul *a,
  2. Gabriela Chilomb,
  3. James Riceb,
  4. Anna Eynardc,
  5. Thomas E. Schumacherc,
  6. Kristine Nicholsd,
  7. Jane M. F. Johnsone,
  8. Sara Wrightf,
  9. TheCan Caesarg and
  10. Michael Ellsburya
  1. a USDA-ARS, North Central Agricultural Research Lab., 2923 Medary Ave., Brookings, SD 57006
    b Dep. of Chemistry and Biochemistry, South Dakota State Univ., Brookings, SD 57007
    c Dep. of Plant Science, South Dakota State Univ., Brookings, SD 57007
    d USDA-ARS, Northern Great Plains Research Lab., 1701 10th Ave. SW, Mandan, ND 58554
    e USDA-ARS, North Central Soil Conservation Research Lab., 803 Iowa Ave., Morris, MN 56267
    f USDA-ARS, Sustainable Agricultural Systems Lab., Building 001, 10300 Baltimore Ave., Beltsville, MD 20705
    g USDA-ARS, Northern Plains Agricultural Research Lab., 1500 North Central Ave., Sidney, MT 59270


Tillage has been associated with soil organic matter (SOM) decline. A case study of two adjacent farms was conducted in eastern South Dakota. One farm used no-till (NT) and the other used chisel tillage (CT). We hypothesized that soil under NT, compared with tillage, would have both greater quantity and greater quality of SOM and that this improved SOM condition would result in increased water stable aggregation (WSA). A rotary sieve was used to sort dry field aggregates into six size groups: <0.4, 0.4 to 0.8, 0.8 to 2.0, 2.0 to 6.0, 6.0 to 19.0, and >19 mm. Water stable aggregation, soil organic C (SOC), N, glomalin, and basidiomycete fungi were measured. Fine particulate soil organic matter (fPOM, 0.5–0.053 mm) and coarse particulate organic matter (2.0–0.5 mm) were isolated by sieving. Quantitative solid-state 13C nuclear magnetic resonance was used to determine C type in humic acid, humin, and whole soil. The fPOM/SOM ratio was greatest in <0.4-mm aggregates and 24% greater in NT than CT. Soil organic C was greatest in 0.8- to 2.0-mm aggregates and 11% greater in NT than CT. Average WSA was 63% greater under NT than under CT. Aggregate wettability was less under NT than CT. Slower water uptake under NT might be attributed to a greater abundance of wax-type C under NT than under CT. We conclude that NT, compared with CT, resulted in better SOM quality during the course of 10 yr. Improved SOM quality was related to improved WSA.

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