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This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 74 No. 2, p. 358-365

    * Corresponding author(s): mark.liebig@ars.usda.gov
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Fallow Effects on Soil Carbon and Greenhouse Gas Flux in Central North Dakota

  1. M. A. Liebig *,
  2. D. L. Tanaka and
  3. J. R. Gross
  1. USDA-ARS, Northern Great Plains Research Lab., P.O. Box 459, Mandan, ND 58554-0459


The inclusion of cover crops during fallow (i.e., green fallow) may mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from dryland cropping systems. An investigation was conducted to quantify the effects of chemical and green fallow on soil organic C (SOC) and CO2, CH4, and N2O flux within spring wheat (Triticum aestivum L.)–fallow (chemical fallow) and spring wheat–safflower (Carthamus tinctorius L.)–rye (Secale cereale L.) (green fallow) under no-till management in west-central North Dakota. Using static chamber methodology, flux measurements were made during 19 mo of the fallow period of each cropping system. Soil samples collected before initiation of flux measurements indicated no difference in SOC in the surface 10 cm between cropping systems. Additionally, differences in gas flux between cropping systems were few. Emission of CO2 was greater under green fallow than chemical fallow during spring thaw until the termination of rye (P = 0.0071). Uptake of atmospheric CH4 was the dominant exchange process during the evaluation period, and was significantly (P = 0.0124) greater under chemical fallow (−2.7 g CH4–C ha−1 d−1) than green fallow (−1.5 g CH4–C ha−1 d−1) following the termination of rye. Cumulative fluxes of CO2, CH4, and N2O did not differ between the chemical- and green-fallow phases during the 19-mo period (P = 0.1293, 0.2629, and 0.9979, respectively). The results from this evaluation suggest there was no net GHG benefit from incorporating a rye cover crop during the fallow phase of a dryland cropping system under no-till management.

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