Soil carbon dioxide fluxes following tillage in semiarid Mediterranean agroecosystems
López Sánchez, María Victoria
Arrúe, José Luis
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In semiarid Mediterranean agroecosystems, low and erratic annual rainfall together with the widespread use of mouldboard ploughing (conventional tillage, CT), as the main traditional tillage practice, has led to a depletion of soil organic matter (SOM) and with increases in CO2 emissions from soil to
the atmosphere. In this study, we evaluated the viability of conservation tillage: RT, reduced tillage (chisel and cultivator ploughing) and, especially, NT (no-tillage) to reduce short-term (from 0 to 48 h after a tillage operation) and mid-term (from 0 h to several days since tillage operation) tillage-induced CO2 emissions. The study was conducted in three long-term tillage experiments located at different sites of the Ebro river valley (NE Spain) across a precipitation gradient. Soils were classified as: Fluventic Xerocrept, Typic Xerofluvent and Xerollic Calciorthid. Soil temperature and water content were also measured in order to determine their influence on tillage-induced CO2 fluxes. The majority of the CO2 flux measured immediately after tillage ranged from 0.17 to 6 g CO2 m−2 h−1 and was from 3 to 15 times greater than the flux before tillage operations, except in NT where soil CO2 flux was low and steady during the whole study period. Mid-term CO2 emission showed a different trend depending on the time of the year in which tillage was implemented. Microclimatic soil conditions (soil temperature and water content) had little impact on soil CO2 emission following tillage. In the semiarid Mediterranean agroecosystems studied, NT had low short-term soil CO2 efflux compared with other soil tillage systems (e.g., conventional and reduced tillage) and therefore can be recommended to better manage C in soil.