A Comparison of the Differences in Soil Structure under Long-Term Conservation Agriculture Relative to a Secondary Forest

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Pires, L. F,, Ferreira, T. R., Cassaro, F. A. M., Cooper, H. V. and Mooney, S. J. 2022. A Comparison of the Differences in Soil Structure under Long-Term Conservation Agriculture Relative to a Secondary Forest. Agriculture - Basel. 12, p. 1783. https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12111783

AuthorsPires, L. F,, Ferreira, T. R., Cassaro, F. A. M., Cooper, H. V. and Mooney, S. J.
Abstract

Conservation agriculture is increasingly preferred to conventional methods due to its benefits in promoting more sustainable soil management. Our study aims to compare physical and morphological properties, at the microscale, of soils under long-term no tillage (NT) and minimumtillage (MT) to adjacent ‘natural’ soils under long-term secondary forest (SF). Soil aggregates of c. 2 cm length were imaged by X-ray Computed Tomography (XCT). The three-dimensional (3D) images were segmented and analyzed in order to assess properties such as porosity, number of pores, degree of anisotropy, pore shape, volume classifications, Euler number for pore connectivity, and pore tortuosity. The pore architecture of soils under NT and MT, for c. 40 years, was similar to that from the SF in terms of imaged porosity, pore size, and shape distributions, as hypothesized in our study. However, we observed some important differences; for instance, SF had larger, more connected, and more complex pores, likely due to the greater biological activity. In addition, SF had more isotropic pores than NT and MT, i.e., without preferential flow paths for water redistribution. Therefore, we concluded that long-term conservation agriculture was efficient at reversing structural damage typically associated with conventional, intensive agriculture, but some large differences remain, particularly concerning the pore network complexity and connectivity.

KeywordsAggregates; Conservation agriculture; X-ray Computed Tomography; Pore architecture; Pore Tortuosity
Year of Publication2022
JournalAgriculture - Basel
Journal citation12, p. 1783
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture12111783
Web address (URL)https://www.mdpi.com/2077-0472/12/11/1783
Open accessPublished as ‘gold’ (paid) open access
Publisher's version
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online27 Oct 2022
Publication process dates
Accepted26 Oct 2022
PublisherMDPI
ISSN2077-0472

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