Journal article
Impact of reduced tillage on carbon and nitrogen storage of two Haplic Luvisols after 40 years

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Jacobs, A.; Ludwig, B.
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Soil and Tillage Research
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It is broadly accepted that reduced tillage increases soil organic carbon (C-org) and total nitrogen (N) concentrations in arable soils. However, the underlying processes of sequestration are not completely understood. Thus, our objectives were to investigate the impact of a minimum tillage (MT) system (to 58 cm depth) on aggregates, on particulate organic matter (POM), and on storage of C-org and N in two loamy Haplic Luvisols in contrast to conventional tillage (CT) (to 25 cm). Surface soils (0-5 cm) and subsoils (10-20 cm) of two experimental fields near Gottingen, Germany, were investigated. Each site (Garte-Sud and Hohes Feld) received both tillage treatments for 37 and 40 years, respectively. In the bulk soil of both sites C-org, N, microbial carbon (C-mic), and microbial N (N-mic) concentrations were elevated under MT in both depths. Likewise, water-stable macroaggregates (>0.25 mm) were on average 2.6 times more abundant under MT than under CT but differences in the subsoils were generally not significant. For surface soils under MT, all aggregate size classes <1 mm showed approx. 35% and 50% increased C-org concentrations at Garte-Sud and Hohes Feld, respectively. For greater macroaggregates (1-2, 2-10 mm), however, differences were inconsistent. Elevations of N concentrations were regular over all size classes reaching 61% and 52%, respectively. Density fractionation of the surface soils revealed that tillage system affected neither the yields of free POM nor occluded POM nor their C-org and N concentrations. Moreover, more C-org and N (15-238%) was associated within the mineral fractions investigated under MT in contrast to CT. Overall. similar to no-tillage, a long-term MT treatment of soil enhanced the stability of macroaggregates and thus was able to physically protect and to store more organic matter (OM) in the surface soil. The increased storage of C-org and N did not occur as POM, as reported for no-tillage, but as mineral-associated OM. (C) 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


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