Tillage, Cover Crop and Crop Rotation Effects on Selected Soil Chemical Properties
Haruna, S., I.; Nkongolo, N., V.
Sustainability 11(10): 2770
ISSN/ISBN: 2071-1050 DOI: 10.3390/su11102770
Research results still vary, especially between locations, on the effects of agricultural practices on soil chemical properties and crop yield, and not all reasons for the variation are fully understood. Thus, this study investigated the influence of tillage, cover crop and crop rotation management practices on selected soil chemical properties. The study was conducted on a silt-loam soil in central Missouri during the 2011 to 2013 growing seasons. The soil was managed by moldboard plow tillage at two levels (tillage [till] vs. no-tillage [NT]). Cover crop management included cereal rye (Secale cereale) at two levels (cover crop [CC] vs. no cover crop [NC]). The main crops that were grown were a corn (Zea mays L.) and soybean (Glycine max L.) rotation. The soil samples were collected each year at 0-10 cm, 10-20 cm, 20-40 cm and 40-60 cm depths for the analysis of soil chemical properties. The results showed that after 3 years of study, the relative increase in percent soil organic matter (OM) was 4% under the no-till management as compared with moldboard plow tillage. In addition, the relative change in the percentage of OM was 8% greater in the CC management compared with NC. Furthermore, the results show a significant improvement (p = 0.0304) in total carbon with a combination of no-till management and a corn/soybean rotation as compared with continuous corn and soybean. The interaction effects of the management practices on the soil chemical properties were difficult to predict throughout the study.