Impact of crop rotation and tillage on some soil quality characteristics
An 11-yr rotation-tillage experiment conducted on a coarse-textured, Brown Chernozemic soil at Cantaur, southwestern Saskatchewan, was used to demonstrate the beneficial effects of reducing cropping frequency and tillage on selected soil biochemical and physical attributes. Treatment differences were most noticeable in the 0-7.5 cm depth, and especially for C and N mineralization and water stable aggregates. Total organic matter and microbial biomass-N effectively distinguished the effect of cropping frequency (continuous wheat vs fallow-wheat) on the attributes assessed, but did less well in distinguishing tillage effects [no-tillage vs conventional tillage (really minimum tillage)]. Levels of soil test N, measured in the fallow-wheat system each fall, supported evidence that by reducing the tillage we have increased the N-supplying power of the soil. This suggests that an economic benefit may eventually accrue to producers who adopt improved crop management practices.
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