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Characterization of soil profiles in a landscape affected by long-term tillage
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Soil movement by tillage redistributes soil within the profile and throughout the landscape, resulting in soil removal from convex slope positions and soil accumulation in concave slope positions. Previous investigations of the spatial variability in surface soil properties and crop yield in a glacial till landscape in west central Minnesota indicated that wheat (Triticum aestivum) yields were decreased in upper hillslope positions affected by high soil erosion loss. In the present study, soil cores were collected and characterized to indicate the effects of long-term intensive tillage on soil properties as a function of depth and tillage erosion. This study provides quantitative measures of the chemical and physical properties of soil profiles in a landscape subject to prolonged tillage erosion, and compares the properties of soil profiles in areas of differing rates of tillage erosion and an uncultivated hillslope. These comparisons emphasize the influence of soil translocation within the landscape by tillage on soil profile characteristics. Soil profiles in areas subject to soil loss by tillage erosion > 20 Mg ha(-1) year(-1) were characterized by truncated profiles, a shallow depth to the C horizon (mean upper boundary 75 cm from the soil surface), a calcic subsoil and a tilled layer containing similar to 19 g kg(-1) of inorganic carbon. In contrast, profiles in areas of soil accumulation by tillage > 10 Mg ha(-1) year(-1) exhibited thick sola with low inorganic carbon content (mean 3 g kg(-1)) and a large depth to the C horizon (usually > 1.5 m below the soil surface). When compared to areas of soil accumulation, organic carbon, total nitrogen and Olsen-extrac table phosphorus contents measured lower, whereas inorganic carbon content, pH and soil strength measured higher throughout the profile in eroded landscape positions because of the reduced soil organic matter content and the influence of calcic subsoil material. The mean surface soil organic carbon and total nitrogen contents in cultivated areas (regardless of erosion status) were less than half that measured in an uncultivated area, indicating that intensive tillage and cropping has significantly depleted the surface soil organic matter in this landscape. Prolonged intensive tillage and cropping at this site has effectively removed at least 20 cm of soil from the upper hillslope positions.
Soil & tillage research 2007 Apr., v. 93, issue 2
Journal Articles, USDA Authors, Peer-Reviewed
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