Submitted to: Soil Science Society of America Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 1, 1999
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: No-till practices allow plant residue to remain on the soil surface to protect the soil surface from raindrop impact and erosion. Some farmers continue to till the soil because they are afraid that no-till practices will allow the soil to become more dense over time. We measured the depth distribution (to 1 ft.) of soil properties. Soil density was increased both in the no-till field and in the disk field by field operations on wet soil, and the density increase persisted at least 1 yr. In the spring, soil water content was greater in the no-till field than in the disk field. Organic matter and total nitrogen were not different between the soil from the no-till and disk fields. Corn and soybean yields were similar in the no-till and disk fields. In summary, since no-till protects the soil and is not inferior to tillage management systems, no-till should be recommended for highly erodible land. This information is useful to scientists, farmers, and county and state personnel who are responsible for insuring a sustainable soil resource.
Technical Abstract: During transition to uncultivated no-till, farmers are concerned that soil compaction will be a problem in the first few years after conversion to no-till. The objective of this study was to examine the change in vertical incremental density and other soil properties with time during transition to no-till. Soil samples were collected in 20 mm increments to 30 cm from 12 pooled subsamples in no-till and disk fields of a soybean (Glycine max (L.) Merr.)/corn (Zea mays L.) rotation. Field operations in the wet spring of 1995 increased soil density for both no-till and disk fields. This density increase persisted a year later. Before 1995, soil density both increased and decreased, but the greatest fluctuations were in the disk field. At the start of the study, the density of the no-till field was significantly greater than for the disk field only for two 2-cm increments. At the end of the study, the density of the no-till field was significantly less than for the disk field for three of the 2-cm increments. For some increments, soil water content was greater in the spring for the no-till field. Organic carbon and total nitrogen were not significantly different for the two tillage systems after 4 years.