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Short-term effects of tillage on mineralization of nitrogen and carbon in soil

Kristensen, Hanne L.; Debosz, Kasia and McCarty, Greg W. (2003) Short-term effects of tillage on mineralization of nitrogen and carbon in soil. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 35, pp. 979-986.

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Tillage is known to decrease soil organic nitrogen (N) and carbon (C) pools with negative consequences for soil quality. This decrease is thought partly to be caused by exposure of protected organic matter to microbial degradation by the disturbance of soil structure. Little is known, however, about the short-term effects of tillage on mineralization of N and C, and microbial activity. We studied the short-term effects of two types of tillage (conventional plough- and a non-inverting-tillage) on mineralization and microbial N and C pools in a sandy loam under organic plough-tillage management. The release of active and protected (inactive) N by tillage was further studied in the laboratory by use of 15N labelling of the active pool of soil N followed by simulation of tillage by sieving through a 2 mm sieve. Results showed that the two types of tillage as well as the simulation of tillage had very few effects on mineralization and microbial pools. The simulation of tillage caused, however, a small release of N from a pool which was otherwise protected against microbial degradation. The use of soil crushing for disruption of larger macroaggregates (>425 µm) and chloroform fumigation for perturbation of the microbial biomass increased the release from both active and protected N pools. The relative contribution from the protected N pool was, however, similar in the three treatments (22-27%), thus the pools subjected to mineralization were characterised by similar degree of protection. On the basis of isotopic composition the pools of N mineralised were indistinguishable. This suggests that the released N originated from the same pool, that is the soil microbial biomass. The study points to the microbial pool as the main source of labile N which may be released by tillage, and thus to its importance for sustained soil fertility in agricultural systems.

EPrint Type:Journal paper
Subjects: Soil > Nutrient turnover
Soil > Soil quality
Soil > Soil quality > Soil biology
Research affiliation: Denmark > DARCOF I (1996-2001) > I.7 Soil fauna, nitrogen dynamics and plant growth
Deposited By: Kristensen, Ph.D. Hanne Lakkenborg
ID Code:1537
Deposited On:07 Oct 2003
Last Modified:12 Apr 2010 07:28
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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