Soil organic matter widens the range of water contents for tillage

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Obour, P. B., Jensen, J. L., Lamande, M., Watts, C. W. and Munkholm, L. J. 2018. Soil organic matter widens the range of water contents for tillage. Soil & Tillage Research. 182 (October), pp. 57-65.

AuthorsObour, P. B., Jensen, J. L., Lamande, M., Watts, C. W. and Munkholm, L. J.
Abstract

The effects of soil organic matter on the water contents for tillage were investigated by sampling soils with a uniform texture, but a range of soil organic carbon (SOC) from two long-term field experiments at Highfield in Rothamsted Research, UK and Askov Experimental Station, Denmark. The treatments studied in Highfield were Bare fallow (BF), Continuous arable rotation (A), Ley-arable (LA) and Grass (G); and in Askov: unfertilized (UNF), ½ mineral fertilizer (½ NPK), 1 mineral fertilizer (1NPK), and 1½ animal manure (1½AM). Minimally undisturbed soil cores (100 cm3) were sampled per plot in both locations from 6-10 cm depth to generate water retention data. Soil blocks were also sampled at 6-15 cm depth to determine basic soil properties and to measure soil aggregate strength parameters. The range of soil water contents appropriate for tillage were determined using the water retention and the consistency approaches. SOC content in Highfield was in the order:G>LA=A>BF, and in Askov: 1½ AM>1NPK=½NPK>UNF. Results showed that different long-term management of the silt loam Highfield soil, and
fertilization of the sandy loam Askov soil affected the mechanical properties of the soils— for Highfield soil, aggregates from the G treatment were stronger in terms of rupture energy when wet (-100 hPa matric potential) than the BF treatment. As the soil dried (-300 and -1000 hPa matric potentials), soil aggregates from the G treatment were relatively weaker and more elastic than the BF soil. Our study showed, for both Highfield and Askov soils, a strong positive linear increase in
the range of water contents for tillage with increasing contents of SOC. This suggests that management practices leading to increased SOC can improve soil workability by increasing the range of water contents for tillage. We recommended using the consistency approach over the water retention approach for determining the range of water contents for tillage because it seems to give realistic estimates of the water contents for tillage.

KeywordsSoil organic carbon; Tillage; Water retention approach; Consistency
Year of Publication2018
JournalSoil & Tillage Research
Journal citation182 (October), pp. 57-65
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1016/j.still.2018.05.001
Web address (URL)https://authors.elsevier.com/sd/article/S0167198718304434
Open accessPublished as ‘gold’ (paid) open access
FunderBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Funder project or codeLong-term experiments in nutrient cycling research
The Rothamsted Long Term Experiments [2017-2022]
ExpeER (2010-2014)
Publisher's version
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online14 May 2018
Publication process dates
Accepted02 May 2018
PublisherElsevier Science Bv
Copyright licenseCC BY
ISSN0167-1987
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