A comparison of the organic matter, biomass, adenosine triphosphate and mineralizable nitrogen contents of ploughed and direct-drilled soils

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Powlson, D. S. and Jenkinson, D. S. 1981. A comparison of the organic matter, biomass, adenosine triphosphate and mineralizable nitrogen contents of ploughed and direct-drilled soils. The Journal of Agricultural Science. 97 (3), pp. 713-721.

AuthorsPowlson, D. S. and Jenkinson, D. S.
Abstract

Soil samples were taken from four field experiments on the growth of cereals in direct-drilled and in mouldboard-ploughed soil. When sampled, one of the experiments had run for 5 years, one for 6, one for 8 and one for 10 years. Sampling was to just below plough depth and was done on an ‘equivalent depth’ basis, i.e. the more compact direct-drilled plots were sampled more shallowly than the ploughed plots in such a way that both samples represented the same weight of soil per unit area. No significant differences in total nitrogen or in total organic carbon were observed between cultivation treatments at any of the four sites.

In three of the four sites, there was no significant difference in microbial biomass carbon, adenosine 5'-triphosphate (ATP), or mineralizable nitrogen between directdrilled and ploughed soils. In the fourth, which contained more clay than the others, there was slightly more biomass carbon and ATP in the direct-drilled soil. As microbial biomass carbon (or ATP, which is closely correlated with microbial biomass carbon) responds more rapidly to changes in management than do total carbon and nitrogen, a change in biomass carbon should provide early warning of changes in soil organic matter, long before changes in total carbon and nitrogen become measurable. That no such change was observed, with one partial exception, is evidence that a change from traditional methods of cultivation to direct drilling has little effect on soil organic matter other than altering its distribution in the soil profile.

Year of Publication1981
JournalThe Journal of Agricultural Science
Journal citation97 (3), pp. 713-721
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1017/s0021859600037084
Open accessPublished as non-open access
Output statusPublished
ISSN00218596
Copyright licensePublisher copyright
PublisherCambridge University Press (CUP) Cambridge

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