Soil organic carbon pools in ploughed and no-till Alfisols of central Ohio

Nakajıma T., Shrestha R. K. , Jacınthe P. -. , Lal R., Bilen S. , Dick W.

SOIL USE AND MANAGEMENT, vol.32, no.4, pp.515-524, 2016 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 32 Issue: 4
  • Publication Date: 2016
  • Doi Number: 10.1111/sum.12305
  • Title of Journal : SOIL USE AND MANAGEMENT
  • Page Numbers: pp.515-524
  • Keywords: Tillage, conventional tillage, carbon sequestration, alfisols, stable C isotope, LAND-USE, MATTER TURNOVER, CROP-ROTATION, SEQUESTRATION, AGRICULTURE, CAPACITY, MOLLISOL, BIOMASS, SYSTEMS, STORAGE


No-till (NT) farming can restore the soil organic carbon (SOC) pool of agricultural soils, but the SOC pool size and retention rate can vary with soil type and duration of NT. Therefore, the objectives of this study were to determine the effects of NT and soil drainage characteristics on SOC accumulation across a series of NT fields on Alfisols in Ohio, USA. Sites under NT for 9 (NT9), 13 (NT13), 36 (NT36), 48 (NT48) and 49 (NT49) years were selected for the study. Soil was somewhat poorly drained at the NT48 site but moderately well drained at the other sites. The NT48 and NT49 on-station sites were under continuous corn (Zea mays), while the other sites were farmers' fields in a corn-soybean (Glycine max) rotation. At each location, the SOC pool (0-30 cm) in the NT field was compared to that of an adjacent plough-till (PT) and woodlot (WL). At the NT36, NT48 and NT49 sites, the retention rate of corn-derived C was determined using stable C isotope (13 C) techniques. In the 0- to 10-cm soil layer, SOC concentration was significantly larger under NT than PT, but a tillage effect was rarely detected below that depth. Across sites, the SOC pool in that layer averaged 36.4, 20 and 40.8 Mg C/ha at the NT, PT and WL sites, respectively. For the 0- to 30-cm layer, the SOC pool for NT (83.4 Mg C/ha) was still 57% greater than under PT. However, there was no consistent trend in the SOC pool with NT duration probably due to the legacy of past management practices and SOC content differences that may have existed among the study sites prior to their conversion to NT. The retention rate of corn-derived C was 524, 263 and 203 kg C/ha/yr at the NT36, NT48 and NT49 sites. In contrast, the retention rate of corn-C under PT averaged 25 and 153 kg C/ha/yr at the NT49 (moderately well-drained) and NT48 (somewhat poorly drained) sites, respectively. The conversion from PT to NT resulted in greater retention of corn-derived C. Thus, adoption of NT would be beneficial to SOC sequestration in agricultural soils of the region.