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This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 74 No. 5, p. 1712-1719
     
    Received: Sept 4, 2009


    * Corresponding author(s): Maysoon.Mikha@ars.usda.gov
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doi:10.2136/sssaj2009.0335

Cropping Intensity Impacts on Soil Aggregation and Carbon Sequestration in the Central Great Plains

  1. Maysoon M. Mikha *,
  2. Joseph G. Benjamin,
  3. Merle F. Vigil and
  4. David C. Nielson
  1. USDA-ARS, Central Great Plains Research Station, 40335 Co. Rd. GG, Akron, CO 80720

Abstract

The predominant cropping system in the Central Great Plains is conventional tillage (CT) winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.)–summer fallow. We investigated the effect of 15 yr of cropping intensities, fallow frequencies, and tillage (CT and no-till [NT]) practices on soil organic C (SOC) sequestration, particulate organic matter (POM), and wet aggregate-size distribution. A crop rotation study was initiated in 1990 at Akron, CO, on a silt loam. In 2005, soil samples were collected from the 0- to 5- and 5- to 15-cm depths in permanent grass, native prairie, and cropping intensities (CI) that included winter wheat, corn (Zea mays L.), proso millet (Panicum miliaceum L.), dry pea (Pisum sativum L.), and summer fallow. The native prairie was sampled to provide a reference point for changes in soil parameters. The most intensive crop rotation significantly increased C sequestration compared with the other CIs where fallow occurred once every 2 or 3 yr. Legume presence in the rotation did not improve SOC sequestration relative to summer fallow. Significant amounts of macroaggregates were associated with grass and intensive cropping compared with the rotations that included fallow. Reduced fallow frequency and continuous cropping significantly increased soil POM near the surface compared with NT wheat–fallow. Macroaggregates exhibited a significant positive relationship with SOC and POM. A significant negative correlation was observed between microaggregates and POM, especially at 0- to 5-cm depth. Overall, a positive effect of continuous cropping and NT was observed on macroaggregate formation and stabilization as well as SOC and POM.

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