Tillage Effects on Soil Organic Carbon Fractions in Mediterranean Dryland Agroecosystems
López Sánchez, María Victoria
Arrúe, José Luis
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Under semiarid conditions, soil quality and productivity can be improved by enhancing soil organic matter content by means of alternative management practices. In this study, we evaluated the feasibility of no-till (NT) and cropping intensification as alternative soil practices to increase soil organic
C (SOC). At the same time, we studied the influence of these management practices on two SOC fractions (particulate organic matter C, POM-C, and the mineral-associated C, Min-C), in semiarid agroecosystems of the Ebro River valley. Soil samples were collected from five soil layers (0–5-, 5–10-, 10–20-, 20–30-, 30–40-cm depth) during July 2005 at three long-term tillage experiments located at different sites in the Ebro River valley (northeast Spain). Soil bulk density, SOC concentration and content, SOC stratification ratio, POM-C, and Min-C were measured. Higher soil bulk density was observed under NT than under reduced tillage (RT), subsoil tillage (ST), or conventional tillage (CT). At the soil surface (0–5-cm depth), the highest total SOC concentration, POM-C, and Min-C were measured under NT, followed by RT, ST, and CT, respectively. In the whole soil profile (0–40 cm), similarly, slightly greater SOC content was measured under NT than under CT with the exception of the Selvanera site, where deep subsoil tillage combined with moldboard plowing accumulated more SOC than NT. In semiarid Mediterranean agroecosystems where CT consists in moldboard plowing, NT is a viable management practice to increase SOC.