Soil Carbon pp 271-279 | Cite as

Long-Term Soil Organic Carbon Changes as Affected by Crop Rotation and Bio-covers in No-Till Crop Systems

  • Amanda J. Ashworth
  • Fred L. Allen
  • Jason P. Wight
  • Arnold M. Saxton
  • Don D. Tyler
Part of the Progress in Soil Science book series (PROSOIL)


Soil organic carbon (SOC) sequestration is a potential negative-feedback for climate-warming gases in agriculture. The rate of no-tillage SOC storage is not well known due to large temporal and spatial biogeochemical and management variations. Therefore our objective was to compare long-term SOC fluxes at a no-till field site in Milan, Tennessee on Oxyaquic Fragiudalfs, in a split-block design with four replications. The whole-block was cropping sequences of corn, soybeans, and cotton with split-block bio-cover treatments of: winter wheat, hairy vetch, poultry litter, and a fallow control. Soil carbon flux was calculated at soil surfaces (0–5 cm) for years-0, 2, 4, and 8. During the first 2 years, small annual losses occurred in carbon over all treatments (1.40 Mg ha−1). During this time, cotton sequences lost significantly more surface SOC than other rotations. However, by year-4, SOC began to stabilize. By year-8, sequences with high frequencies of soybean and with greater temporal complexity generally gained greater SOC levels at 0–5 cm. Also, poultry litter bio-cover gained more surface SOC compared to wheat, vetch and fallow covers. Across all sequences and bio-covers, SOC had increased 1.47 Mg ha−1 after 8 years from pre-experimental levels of 9.20 Mg ha−1; suggesting long-term beneficial effects on C storage under no-till and diverse cropping sequences.


No-tillage Crop sequence Soil organic carbon Cover crop Bio-cover Carbon sequestration 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amanda J. Ashworth
    • 1
  • Fred L. Allen
    • 2
  • Jason P. Wight
    • 3
  • Arnold M. Saxton
    • 4
  • Don D. Tyler
    • 5
  1. 1.Center for Native Grasslands Management, Department of Forestry Wildlife and FisheriesUniversity of TennesseeKnoxvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Plant SciencesUniversity of TennesseeKnoxvilleUSA
  3. 3.Department of Soil and Crop Science, Texas Agricultural Experiment StationTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA
  4. 4.Department of Animal SciencesUniversity of TennesseeKnoxvilleUSA
  5. 5.Department of Biosystems Engineering and Soil ScienceUniversity of TennesseeJacksonUSA

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