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Spatial and temporal effects of direct drilling on soil structure in the seedling environment

Munkholm, L.J.; Schjønning, P.; Rasmussen, K.J. and Tanderup, K. (2003) Spatial and temporal effects of direct drilling on soil structure in the seedling environment. Soil and Tillage Research, 71 (2), pp. 163-173.

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Despite more than 30 years of research and practical experience the interest in shallow tillage and especially direct drilling has remained low in Scandinavia. Excessive compaction of the topsoil layer is one of the major problems encountered when adapting shallow tillage and direct drilling in particular. The purpose of this study was to evaluate temporal and spatial effects of two different direct drilling techniques on bulk density and penetration resistance in the near seed environment. A sandy loam growing small grain cereals was followed during the first 3 years after conversion from conventional tillage to direct drilling to reveal short-term changes in soil structure. A field experiment with four blocks was conducted in 1999–2001 where a conventional mouldboard ploughing–harrowing system (PL) was compared with direct drilling performed by either a chisel coulter drill (DD-C) or a single disc drill (DD-D). Effects on density and penetration resistance were measured in the field after first, second and third year of crop establishment (T1, T2 and T3). Bulk density was determined at 0–100 mm depth using a dual probe gamma-ray transmission system. Penetration resistance was recorded in the field at 0–150 mm depth. At T2 column samples (diameter: 180 mm, height: 200 mm) were taken with the seed row through the centre. Penetration resistance was determined in these samples in a 10 mm×10 mm grid using a micropenetrometer (3 mm cone base diameter) at 0 to approximately 150 mm depth. Two samples from each treatment were analysed by a medical CT-scanner to determine spatial differences in bulk density. Irrespective of coulter type direct drilling gave a fast compaction of the arable layer below seeding depth when shifting from mouldboard ploughing to direct drilling. Soil strength was substantially higher already in the first year of direct drilling (i.e., maximum 0.4 and 1.2 MPa, for PL and DD-D/DD-C, respectively). Critical high penetration resistance (>2.0 MPa) and bulk density levels (>1.5 g cm-3) were reached at T2 and remained at the same level at T3. The DD-C direct drill produced a more favourable soil environment for crop establishment than the DD-D drill. A layer of approximately 40 mm loose granular soil above seeding depth and no indication of a direct compaction effect was found for the DD-C treatment. In contrast, the field as well as the laboratory results indicated a direct compacting effect for the DD-D drill. Despite the lack of direct compaction effect from the DD-C drill itself, evidence suggest that periodic non-inversion soil loosening of the lower part of the arable layer is needed on direct drilled sandy loam soil in a moist and cool climate.

EPrint Type:Journal paper
Keywords:Direct drilling; Sandy loam; Denmark; Soil compaction; Spatial effects; Temporal effects
Subjects: Soil > Soil quality
Crop husbandry > Production systems
Crop husbandry > Soil tillage
Crop husbandry > Production systems > Cereals, pulses and oilseeds
Research affiliation: Denmark > AU - Aarhus University > AU, DJF - Faculty of Agricultural Sciences
Deposited By: Schjønning, Senior Soil Scientist Per
ID Code:729
Deposited On:30 May 2003
Last Modified:12 Apr 2010 07:27
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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