Biology and Fertility of Soils

, Volume 44, Issue 1, pp 27–35 | Cite as

Tillage and cover effects on soil microbial properties and fluometuron degradation

  • Robert M. ZablotowiczEmail author
  • Martin A. Locke
  • Lewis A. Gaston
Original Paper


This research concerns the influence of no tillage (NT) or conventional tillage (CT) and a ryegrass (Lolium multiforum Lam.) cover crop in a cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) production system on soil and ryegrass microbial counts, enzyme activities, and fluometuron degradation. Fluorescein diacetate hydrolysis, aryl acylamidase, and colony-forming units (CFUs) of total bacteria and fungi, gram-negative bacteria, and fluorescent pseudomonads were determined in soil and ryegrass samples used in the degradation study. Fluometuron (14C-labelled herbicide) degradation was evaluated in the laboratory using soil and ryegrass. The CT and NT plots with a ryegrass cover crop maintained greater microbial populations in the upper 2 cm compared to their respective no-cover soils, and CT soils with ryegrass maintained greater bacterial and fungal CFUs in the 2–10 cm depth compared to the other soils The highest enzymatic activity was found in the 0–2 cm depth of soils with ryegrass compared to their respective soils without ryegrass. Ryegrass residues under NT maintained several hundred-fold greater CFUs than the respective underlying surface soils. Fluometuron degradation in soil and ryegrass residues proceeded through sequential demethylation and incorporation of residues into nonextractable components. The most rapid degradation was observed in surface (0 to 2 cm) soil from CT and NT–ryegrass plots. However, degradation occurred more rapidly in CT compared to NT soils in the 2 to 10 cm depth. Ryegrass cover crop systems, under NT or incorporated under CT, stimulated microbiological soil properties and promoted herbicide degradation in surface soils.


Cover crop Enzymatic activity Herbicide metabolism Microbial populations No tillage Ryegrass 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert M. Zablotowicz
    • 1
    Email author
  • Martin A. Locke
    • 2
  • Lewis A. Gaston
    • 3
  1. 1.USDA-ARS Southern Weed Science Research UnitStonevilleUSA
  2. 2.USDA-ARS, Water Quality & Ecology Research UnitOxfordUSA
  3. 3.Department of Agronomy LSU Ag CenterLouisiana State UniversityBaton RougeUSA

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