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

No-till Induced Increase in Organic Carbon Reduces Maximum Bulk Density of Soils


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 73 No. 6, p. 1871-1879
    Received: Nov 3, 2008

    * Corresponding author(s): hblanco@ksu.edu
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  1. Humberto Blanco-Canqui *a,
  2. L. R. Stoneb,
  3. A J. Schlegelc,
  4. D. J. Lyond,
  5. M. F. Vigile,
  6. M. M. Mikhae,
  7. P. W. Stahlmana and
  8. C. W. Riceb
  1. a Kansas State University, Agricultural Research Center-Hays, 1232 240th Avenue, Hays, KS 67601-9228
    b Dep. of Agronomy, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506
    c Kansas State University, Southwest Research-Extension Center, Tribune, KS 67879
    d University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Panhandle Research and Extension Center, 4502 Avenue I, Scottsbluff, NE 69361
    e USDA-ARS, Central Great Plains Research Station, 40335 Road GG, Akron, CO 80720


Compaction can be a problem in some no-till (NT) soils, but accumulation of soil organic C (SOC) with time may reduce the soil's susceptibility to compaction. Relationships between SOC and soil maximum bulk density (BDmax), equivalent to maximum soil compactibility, have not been well documented, particularly in NT systems. We assessed near-surface BDmax using the Proctor test under long-term (>19 yr) moldboard plow (MP), conventional tillage (CT), reduced tillage (RT), and NT conditions in the central Great Plains and determined its relationships with SOC, particle size distribution, and Atterberg consistency limits. The experiments were located on silt loam soils at Hays and Tribune, KS, and loam soils at Akron, CO, and Sidney, NE. The near-surface BDmax of the MP soil was higher than that of the NT soil by 13% at Sidney, while the near-surface BDmax of the CT was higher than that of the NT soil by about 6% at Akron, Hays, and Tribune. Critical water content (CWC) for BDmax in the NT soil was higher than in the CT and MP soils except at Tribune. The BDmax decreased with increase in CWC (r = -0.91). The soil liquid limit was higher for NT than for MP by 82% at Sidney, and it was higher than for CT by 14, 9, and 31% at Akron, Hays, and Tribune, respectively. The SOC concentration in NT soil was higher than in MP by 60% at Akron and 76% at Sidney, and it was higher than in CT soil by 82% at Hays. The BDmax decreased (r = −0.64) and the CWC increased (r = 0.60) with an increase in SOC concentration. Across all soils, SOC concentration was a sensitive predictor of BDmax and CWC. This regional study showed that NT management-induced increase in SOC improves the soil's ability to resist compaction.

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