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Non-inversion tillage effects on soil mechanical properties of a humid sandy loam

Munkholm, Lars J.; Schjønning, Per and Rasmussen, Karl J. (2001) Non-inversion tillage effects on soil mechanical properties of a humid sandy loam. Soil and Tillage Research, 62 (1-2), pp. 1-14.

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Optimisation of soil tilth is of paramount importance in organic plant production in order to enhance crop growth. Non-inversion and reduced tillage systems are often claimed to be preferable for organic farming. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the early stage effects of converting a mouldboard-ploughed soil to a non-inversion tillage system. A multi-level experimental strategy including in situ, on-site and laboratory methods was followed in order to relate quantitative measures of soil physical properties directly to soil behaviour in the field. A non-inversion deep soil loosening (0¯35 cm) tillage system (NINV) was compared to a conventional mouldboard ploughing and harrowing tillage system (CONV). The experimental site was located on an organically managed sandy loam soil. The tillage treatments were applied to plots in two fields (B3 and B4) at the experimental site. Limited numbers of measurements were performed in the B3 field during the 1997¯1999 growing seasons. A more comprehensive programme was carried out in the B4 field in May and September 1998. A root-restricting plough pan was detected in the CONV treated soil. The NINV treatment effectively loosened the plough pan resulting in a visibly improved soil structure and a decrease in soil strength. The penetration resistance in the plough pan was reduced from about 1800 kPa in CONV to less than 1000 kPa in NINV when measured at field capacity. The loosening of the plough pan was still evident after 2 years without tillage operations in a perennial grass/clover crop. The topsoil of the CONV treatment had a more desirable tilth than that of the NINV treatment, which had higher soil strength at the 7¯14 cm depth. In accordance with this, the CONV treated topsoil fragmented more readily than the NINV soil in the field. The laboratory measurements on soil from the September sampling showed that the NINV treatment had lower friability index (i.e., friability index of 0.16 and 0.22 for NINV and CONV, respectively) and higher tensile strength of air-dry aggregates. The differences in topsoil tilth were not eliminated by natural soil meliorating processes during the growing season. This paper discusses the early stage effects of converting to non-inversion tillage. A number of years of continued treatment may be required before beneficial effects of non-inversion tillage are manifested in improved topsoil tilth.

EPrint Type:Journal paper
Subjects: Soil > Soil quality
Research affiliation: Denmark > DARCOF I (1996-2001) > I.3 Fertility and soil tillage
Denmark > DARCOF II (2000-2005) > I. 7 (ROMAPAC) Soil quality in organic farming
Deposited By: Schjønning, Senior Soil Scientist Per
ID Code:39
Deposited On:03 Oct 2002
Last Modified:12 Apr 2010 07:27
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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