Aggregate breakdown during tillage in a Mediterranean loamy soil
Arrúe, José Luis
López Sánchez, María Victoria
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Long-term tillage negatively affects soil aggregation, but little is known about the short-term effects of tillage. We investigated the effects of intensive tillage (moldboard plowing) and conservation tillage (chisel plowing) on aggregate breakage during tillage in a long-term study located in the semiarid Ebro river valley (NE Spain). The type of tillage resulted in different soil aggregate distributions. In the 0–5-cm and 5–10-cm soil layers, chisel plowing decreased dry mean weight diameter (DMWD) 29% and 35%, respectively, while moldboard plowing decreased DMWD by only 2% and 16%, respectively. The decrease in DMWD was mainly due to breaking of large aggregates ranging (2–8 mm) into small aggregates (<0.5 mm). Tillage method had no effect on water stability of 1–2 mm aggregates. The differences in DMWD demonstrate that the choice of the tillage implement can be a key factor in improving soil management and productivity. The surprising result that aggregate breakdown was greater with chisel than moldboard plowing needs further research to determine the mechanisms controlling aggregate breaking during tillage.
Is part ofSoil and Tillage Research, 2008, vol. 101, núm. 1-2, p. 62-68
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