Long-term tillage, straw and N rate effects on quantity and quality of organic C and N in a Gray Luvisol soil

An Erratum to this article is available

Abstract

Long-term use of soil, crop and fertilizer management practices alters some soil properties, but the magnitude of change depends on soil type and climatic conditions. A field experiment with a barley (Hordeum vulgare L.)–wheat (Triticum aestivum L.)–canola (Brassica napus L.) rotation was conducted on a Gray Luvisol (Typic Cryoboralf) loam soil at Breton, Alberta, Canada. Effects of 19 or 27 years (from 1980 to 1998 or 2006 growing seasons) of tillage (zero tillage [ZT] and conventional tillage [CT]), straw management (straw removed [SRem] and straw retained [SRet]) and N fertilizer rate (0, 50 and 100 kg N ha−1 in SRet, and 0 kg N ha−1 in SRem plots) were determined on total organic C (TOC) and N (TON), light fraction organic C (LFOC) and N (LFON), macro organic matter C (MOM-C) and N (MOM-N), microbial biomass C (MB-C), and mineralizable C (Cmin) and N (Nmin) in the 0–7.5 and 7.5–15 cm or 0–5, 5–10 and 10–15 cm soil layers. Zero tillage and SRet tended to have higher, and N fertilizer treatment usually had higher mass of TOC, TON, LFOC, LFON, Cmin and Nmin in soil compared to the corresponding CT, SRem and zero-N control treatments, especially in the surface soil layers. Soil MB-C, MOM-C and MOM-N in soil generally tended to be higher with SRet than SRem, and also with N fertilizer than zero-N. There was no additional beneficial effect of ZT in increasing MB-C in soil. There were close and significant correlations among most soil organic C or N fractions, except for MB-C which did not correlate with MOM-N, and Nmin did not correlate with MOM-C. Linear regressions between crop residue C input and soil organic C or N were significant in most cases, except for MB-C and Nmin. Compared to the 1979 data, all treatments that did not receive N fertilizer (CTSRem0, CTSRet0, ZTSRem0 and ZTSRet0) showed a decrease in TOC concentration in the 0–15 cm soil layer over time, with the highest decrease in the CTSRem0 treatment. Straw retention and N fertilizer application at 50 and 100 kg N ha−1 under both ZT (ZTSRet50 and ZTSRet100) and CT (CTSRet50 and CTSRet100) resulted in a strongest increase in TOC during the first 11 years, and since then the TOC decreased under both N rates but 50 kg N ha−1 rate under CT (CTSRet50) showed the strongest negative effect on TOC in soil. In conclusion, elimination of tillage, straw retention and N application all improved organic C and N in soil, and generally differences were more pronounced for light fraction organic C and N, and between the most extreme treatments (CTSRem0 vs. ZTSRet100) for each dynamic organic fraction. This may be better for the long-term sustainability of soil quality and productivity.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1

References

  1. Biederbeck VO, Campbell CA, Zentner RP (1984) Effect of crop rotation and fertilization on some biological properties of a loam in southwestern Saskatchewan. Can J Soil Sci 64:355–367

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Bonde TA, Christensen BT, Cerri CC (1992) Dynamics of soil organic matter as reflected by natural 13C abundance in particle size fractions of forest and cultivated oxisols. Soil Biol Biochem 24:275–277

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Bremer E, Janzen HH, Johnston AM (1994) Sensitivity of total, light fraction and mineralizable organic matter to management practices in a Lethbridge soil. Can J Soil Sci 74:131–138

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. Bremer E, Ellert BH, Janzen HH (1995) Total and light-fraction carbon dynamics during four decades after cropping. Soil Sci Soc Am J 59:1398–1403

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Campbell CA, Lafond G, Zentner RP, Biederbeck VO (1991) Influence of fertilizer and straw baling on soil organic matter in a thin Black Chernozem in western Canada. Soil Biol Biochem 23:443–446

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Campbell CA, Janzen HH, Juma NG (1997a) Case studies of soil quality in the Canadian Prairies: long-term field experiments, Chap. 17. In: Gregorih EG, Carter MR (eds) Soil quality for crop production and ecosystem health. Elsevier, New York, NY, USA, pp 351–397

  7. Campbell CA, Lafond GP, Moulin AP, Townley-Smith L, Zentner RP (1997b) Crop production and soil organic matter in long-term crop rotations in the sub-humid Northern Great Plains of Canada, Chap. 22. In: Paul EA, Paustian K, Elliott ET, Cole CV (eds) Soil organic matter in temperate agroecosystems: long-term experiments in North America. Lewis Publishers, CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, USA, pp 297–315

  8. Campbell CA, McConkey BG, Biederbeck VO, Zentner RP, Tessier S, Hahn DL (1997c) Tillage and fallow frequency effects on selected soil quality attributes in a coarse-textured Brown Chernozem. Can J Soil Sci 77:497–505

    Google Scholar 

  9. Campbell CA, Selles F, Lafond GP, McConkey BG, Hahn D (1998) Effect of crop management on C and N in long-term crop rotations after adopting no-tillage management: Comparison of soil sampling strategies. Can J Soil Sci 78:155–162

    Google Scholar 

  10. Campbell CA, Lafond GP, Biederbeck VO, Wen G, Schoenau J, Hahn D (1999) Seasonal trends in soil biochemical attributes: effects of crop management on a Black Chernozem. Can J Soil Sci 79:85–97

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  11. Campbell CA, Selles F, Lafond GP, Biederbeck VO, Zentner RP (2001) Tillage-fertilizer changes: effect on some soil quality attributes under long-term crop rotations in a thin Black Chernozem. Can J Soil Sci 81:157–165

    Google Scholar 

  12. Carpenter-Boggs L, Stahl PD, Lindstrom MJ, Schumacher TE (2003) Soil microbial properties under permanent grass, conventional tillage, and no-till management in South Dakota. Soil Till. Res 71:15–23

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Carter MR, Angers DA, Gregorich EG (1994) Approaches to evaluate organic matter quality in soil management and tillage studies. In: Proceedings of the 13th international soil tillage research organisation (ISTRO) conference, Aalborg, Denmark, vol 1, pp 111–116

  14. Carter MR, Angers DA, Gregorich EG, Bolinder MA (2003) Characterizing organic matter retention for surface soils in eastern Canada using density and particle size fractions. Can J Soil Sci 83:11–23

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  15. Culley JLB (1993) Density and compressibility. In: Carter MR (ed) Soil sampling and methods of analysis. Lewis Publishers, Boca Raton, FL, USA

    Google Scholar 

  16. Dalal RC (1989) Long-term effects of no-tillage, crop residue, and nitrogen application on properties of a Vertsol. Soil Sci Soc Am J 53:1511–1515

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  17. Dalal RC (1992) Long-term trends in total nitrogen of a vertisol subjected to zero-tillage, nitrogen application and stubble retention. Aust J Soil Res 30:223–231

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  18. Dalal RC (1998) Soil microbial biomass–what do the numbers mean? Aust J Experiment Agric 38:649–665

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Doran JW (1980) Soil microbial and biochemical changes associated with reduced tillage. Soil Sci Soc Am J 44:765–771

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  20. Doran JW, Parkin TB (1994) Defining and assessing soil quality. In: Doran JW, Coleman DC, Bezdicek DF, Stewart BA (eds) Defining soil quality for a sustainable environment. Special Pub. 35. Soil Science Society of America Inc., Madison, WI, USA, pp 3–21

    Google Scholar 

  21. Doran JW, Scott-Smith M (1987) Organic matter management and utilization of soil and fertilizer nutrients. In: Follett RF, Stewart JWB, Cole CV (eds) Soil fertility and organic matter as critical components of production systems. American Society of Agronomy, Madison, WI, USA, pp 53–72

    Google Scholar 

  22. Ellert BH, Bettany JR (1995) Calculation of organic matter and nutrients stored in soils under contrasting management regimes. Can J Soil Sci 75:29–538

    Google Scholar 

  23. Ellert BH, Janzen HH (1996) Soil sampling procedure to estimate changes in carbon storage. Draft version project no. 1113–9301 (MII #34), pp 51

  24. Gregorich EG, Ellert BH (1993) Light fraction and macrorganic matter in mineral soils. In: Carter MR (ed) Soil sampling and methods of analysis. Lewis Publishers, CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, USA, pp 397–407

    Google Scholar 

  25. Gregorich EG, Janzen HH (1995) Storage of soil carbon in the light fraction and macroorganic. In: Carter MR, Stewart BA (eds) Structure and organic matter storage in agricultural soils. Adv. Soil Sci. Lewis Publishers, CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, USA, pp 167–190

    Google Scholar 

  26. Gregorich EG, Carter MR, Angers DA, Monreal CM, Ellert BH (1994) Towards a minimum data set to assess soil organic matter quality in agricultural soils. Can J Soil Sci 74:367–385

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  27. Gulde S, Chung H, Amelung W, Chang C, Six J (2008) Soil carbon saturation controls labile and stable carbon pool dynamics. Soil Sci Soc Am J 72:605–612

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  28. Halvorson AD, Wienhold BJ, Black AL (2002) Tillage, nitrogen and cropping system effects on soil carbon sequestration. Soil Sci Soc Am J 66:906–912

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  29. Hassink J, Whitmore AP (1997) A model of the physical protection of organic matter in soils. Soil Sci Soc Am J 61:131–139

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  30. Havlin JL, Kissel DE, Maddux LD, Long JH (1990) Crop rotation and tillage effects on soil organic carbon and nitrogen. Soil Sci Soc Am J 54:448–452

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. IPCC (Integovernmental Panel on Climate Change) (2006) N2O emissions from managed soils, and CO2 emissions from lime and urea application, Chap. 11. In: IPCC guidelines for national greenhouse gas inventories, vol 4: agriculture, forestry and other land use. Institute for Global Environment Strategies, Hayama, Japan

  32. Izaurralde RC, Nyborg M, Solberg ED, Janzen HH, Arshad MA, Malhi SS, Molina-Ayala M (1997) Carbon storage in eroded soils after five years of reclamation techniques. In: Lal R, Kimble JM, Follett RF, Stewart BA (eds) Management of carbon sequestration in soil. Adv. Soil Sci. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, USA, pp 369–385

    Google Scholar 

  33. Izaurralde RC, McGill WB, Robertson JA, Juma NG, Thurston JJ (2001) Carbon balance of the Breton Classical Plots over half a century. Soil Sci Soc Am J 65:431–441

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  34. Janzen HH, Campbell CA, Brandt SA, Lafond GP, Townley-Smith L (1992) Light-fraction organic matter in soil from long term rotations. Soil Sci Soc Am J 56:1799–1806

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Janzen HH, Campbell CA, Izaurralde RC, Ellert BH, Juma N, McGill WB, Zentner RP (1998) Management effects on soil C storage on the Canadian prairies. In: Paustian K, Elliott ET, Carter MR (eds) Special issue: tillage and crop management impacts on soil carbon storage. Soil Tillage Res vol 47, pp 181–195

  36. Jenkinson DS, Powlson DS (1976) The effects of biocidal treatments on metabolism in soil. V. Method for measuring soil biomass. Soil Biol Biochem 8:209–213

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  37. Kanazawa S, Philip Z (1986) Distribution of microorganisms, total biomass and enzyme activities in different particles of Brown soil. Microb Ecol 12:205–215

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  38. Liang BC, McConkey BG, Campbell CA, Johnston AM, Moulin AP (2002) Short-term crop rotation and tillage effects on soil organic carbon on the Canadian prairies. In: Kimble JM, Lal R, Follett RE (eds) Agricultural practices and policies for carbon sequestration in soil. Lewis Publishers, CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, USA, pp 287–293

  39. Liang BC, McConkey BG, Schoenau J, Curtin D, Campbell CA, Moulin A, Lafond GP, Brandt SA, Wang H (2003) Effect of tillage and crop rotation on light fraction organic carbon and carbon mineralization in Chernozemic soils of Saskatchewan. Can J Soil Sci 83:65–72

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  40. Liang BC, McConkey BG, Campbell CA, Curtin D, Lafond GP, Brandt SA, Moulin A (2004) Total and labile soil organic nitrogen as influenced by crop rotations and tillage in Canadian prairie soils. Biol Fertil Soils 39:249–257

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  41. Liebig MA, Tanaka DL, Wienhold BJ (2004) Tillage and cropping effects on soil quality indicators in the northern Great Plains. Soil Till. Res 78:131–141

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Lorenz RJ (1977) Changes in root weight and distribution in response to fertilization and harvest treatment of mixed prairie. In: Marshall JK (ed) The belowground ecosystem. Range Science Department, Science Series, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA No. 26, pp 63–71

  43. Lupwayi NZ, Rice WA, Clayton GW (1999) Soil microbial biomass and carbon dioxide flux under wheat as influenced by tillage and crop rotation. Can J Soil Sci 79:273–280

    Google Scholar 

  44. Lupwayi NZ, Clayton GW, O’Donovan JT, Harker KN, Turkington TK, Soon YK (2007) Phosphorus release during decomposition of crop residues under conventional and zero tillage. Soil Tillage Res 95:231–239

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Malhi SS, Gill KS (2002) Fertilizer N and P effects on root mass of bromegrass, alfalfa and barley. J Sustain Agric 19:51–63

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Malhi SS, Lemke R (2007) Tillage, crop residue and N fertilizer effects on crop yield, nutrient uptake, soil quality and greenhouse gas emissions in the second 4-yr rotation cycle. Soil Tillage Res 96:269–283

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Malhi SS, Mumey G, O’Sullivan PA, Harker KN (1988) An economic comparison of barley production under zero and conventional tillage. Soil Tillage Res 11:159–166

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Malhi SS, Mumey G, Harker KN (1993) Economic comparisons between zero and conventional tillage as influenced by N fertilizer management. In: Barrow NJ (ed) Developments in Plant and Soil Sciences, Vol. 54. (Plant Nutrition - From Genetic Engineering to Field Practice). Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, The Netherlands., pp 559–562

    Google Scholar 

  49. Malhi SS, Brandt S, Gill KS (2003a) Cultivation and grassland type effects on light fraction and total organic C and N in a Dark Brown Chernozemic soil. Can J Soil Sci 83:145–153

    Google Scholar 

  50. Malhi SS, Harapiak JT, Nyborg M, Gill KS, Monreal CM, Gregorich EG (2003b) Light fraction organic N, ammonium, nitrate and total N in a thin Black Chernozemic soil under bromegrass after 27 annual applications of different N rates. Nutr Cycl Agroecosys 65:201–210

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  51. Malhi SS, Harapiak JT, Nyborg M, Gill KS, Monreal CM, Gregorich EG (2003c) Total and light fraction organic C in a thin Black Chernozemic grassland soil as affected by 27 annual applications of six rates of fertilizer N. Nutr Cycl Agroecosys 66:33–41

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  52. Malhi SS, Moulin AP, Johnston AM, Kutcher RH (2008) Short-term and long-term effects of tillage and crop rotation on some soil physical and biological properties in a Black Chernozem soil in northeastern Saskatchewan. Can J Soil Sci 88:273–282

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  53. Malhi SS, Brandt SA, Lemke R, Moulin AP, Zentner RP (2009a) Effects of input level and crop diversity on soil nitrate-N, extractable P, aggregation, organic C and N, and N and P balance in the Canadian Prairie. Nutr Cycl Agroecosys (online). doi:10.1007/s10705-008-9220-0

  54. McConkey BG, Liang BC, Campbell CA, Curtin D, Moulin A, Brandt SA, Lafond GP (2003) Crop rotation and tillage impact on carbon sequestration in Canadian prairie soils. Soil Tillage Res 74:81–90

    Article  Google Scholar 

  55. McGill WB, Dormaar JF, Reinl-Dwyer E (1988) New perspectives on soil organic matter quality, quantity, and dynamics on the Canadian Prairies. In: Proceedings of the Canadian Society of Soil Science and Canadian Society of Extension Joint Symposium, Land degradation: assessment and insight into a western Canadian problem. August 23, 1988, Agricultural Institute of Canada, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, pp 30–48

  56. Nuttall WF, Bowren KE, Campbell CA (1986) Crop residue management practices, and N and P fertilizer effects on crop response and on some soil physical and chemical properties of a Black Chernozem over 25 years in a continuous wheat rotation. Can J Soil Sci 66:159–171

    Article  Google Scholar 

  57. Nyborg M, Solberg ED, Malhi SS, Izaurralde RC (1995) Fertilizer N, crop residue, and tillage after soil C and N content in a decade. In: Lal R, Kimble J, Levine E, Stewart BA (eds) Soil management and greenhouse effect. Adv. Soil Sci. Lewis Publishers, CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, USA, pp 93–99

    Google Scholar 

  58. Pastor J, Aber JD, McClaugherty CA, Melillo JM (1984) Aboveground production and N and P cycling along a N mineralization gradient on Blackhawk Island. Wisconsin. Ecol 65:256–268

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  59. Patra AK, Jarvis SC, Hatch DJ (1999) Nitrogen mineralization in soil layers, soil particles and macro-organic matter under grassland. Biol Fertil Soils 29:38–45

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  60. Plante AF, Stewart CE, Conant RT, Paustian K, Six J (2006) Soil management effects on organic carbon in isolated fractions of a Gray Luvisol. Can J Soil Sci 86:141–151

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  61. SAS Institute (2004) SAS product documentation. Version 8. Available at http://support.sas.com/documentation/onlinedoc/index.html. Verified 17 July 2009. SAS Institute, Cary, NC, USA

  62. Singh B, Malhi SS (2006) Response of soil physical properties to tillage and straw management on two contrasting soils in a cryoboreal environment. Soil Tillage Res 85:143–153

    Article  Google Scholar 

  63. Solberg ED, Nyborg M, Izaurralde RC, Malhi SS, Janzen HH, Molina-Ayala M (1997) Carbon storage in soils under continuous cereal grain cropping: N fertilizer and straw. In: Lal R, Kimble JM, Follett RF, Stewart BA (eds) Management of carbon sequestration in soil. Adv. Soil Sci. Lewis Publishers, CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, USA, pp 235–254

    Google Scholar 

  64. Sollins P, Spycher G, Glassman CA (1984) Net mineralization from light- and heavy-fraction forest soil organic matter. Soil Biol Biochem 16:31–37

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  65. Soon YK, Arshad MA (1996) Effects of cropping on nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium forms, and soil organic carbon in a Grey Luvisol. Bio Fertil Soils 22:184–190

    Article  Google Scholar 

  66. Technicon Industrial Systems (1973a) Ammonium in water and waste water. Industrial Method No. 90-70 W-B. Revised January 1978. Technicon Industrial Systems, Tarrytown, NY, USA

  67. Technicon Industrial Systems (1973b) Nitrate in water and waste water. Industrial Method No. 100-70 W-B. Revised January 1978. Technicon Industrial Systems, Tarrytown, NY, USA

  68. Technicon Industrial Systems (1977) Industrial/simultaneous determination of nitrogen and/or phosphorus in BD acid digests. Industrial method no. 334-74 W/Bt. Tarrytown, NY, USA

  69. Thomson AM, Izaurralde RC, Rosenberg NJ, He X (2006) Climate change impacts on agriculture and soil carbon sequestration potential in the Huang-Hai Plain of China. Agri Ecosyst Environ 114:195–209

    Article  Google Scholar 

  70. Uri V, Lohmus K, Tullus H (2003) Annual net N mineralization in a grey alder (Alnus incana L. moench) plantation on abandoned agricultural land. Forest Ecol Manage 184:167–176

    Article  Google Scholar 

  71. Warren GP, Whitehead DC (1988) Available soil nitrogen in relation to fraction of soil nitrogen and other soil properties. Plant Soil 112:155–165

    Article  Google Scholar 

  72. Zentner RP, Lindwall CW (1978) An economic assessment of zero tillage in wheat-fallow rotations in southern Alberta. Can Farm Econ 136:1–6

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

The authors thank Z Zhang and K Strukoff for technical help, D. Leach for statistical analysis, and Dr. K. S. Gill and Dr. H. R. Kutcher for the internal review/revision of the manuscript.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to S. S. Malhi.

Additional information

An erratum to this article can be found at http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10705-011-9427-3

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Malhi, S.S., Nyborg, M., Goddard, T. et al. Long-term tillage, straw and N rate effects on quantity and quality of organic C and N in a Gray Luvisol soil. Nutr Cycl Agroecosyst 90, 1–20 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10705-010-9399-8

Download citation

Keywords

  • Dynamic organic fractions
  • N fertilizer
  • Organic C and N
  • Soil quality
  • Straw management
  • Tillage