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Amelioration of soil compaction can take 5 years on a Vertisol under no till in the semi-arid subtropics

Radford, B.J. and Yule, D.F. and McGarry, D. and Playford, C. (2007) Amelioration of soil compaction can take 5 years on a Vertisol under no till in the semi-arid subtropics. Soil and Tillage Research, 97 (2). pp. 249-255.

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Article Link(s): http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.still.2006.01.005

Publisher URL: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/home

Abstract

Heavy wheel traffic causes soil compaction, which adversely affects crop production and may persist for several years. We applied known compaction forces to entire plots annually for 5 years, and then determined the duration of the adverse effects on the properties of a Vertisol and the performance of crops under no-till dryland cropping with residue retention. For up to 5 years after a final treatment with a 10 Mg axle load on wet soil, soil shear strength at 70-100 mm and cone index at 180-360 mm were significantly (P < 0.05) higher than in a control treatment, and soil water storage and grain yield were lower. We conclude that compaction effects persisted because (1) there were insufficient wet-dry cycles to swell and shrink the entire compacted layer, (2) soil loosening by tillage was absent and (3) there were fewer earthworms in the compacted soil. Compaction of dry soil with 6 Mg had little effect at any time, indicating that by using wheel traffic only when the soil is dry, problems can be avoided. Unfortunately such a restriction is not always possible because sowing, tillage and harvest operations often need to be done when the soil is wet. A more generally applicable solution, which also ensures timely operations, is the permanent separation of wheel zones and crop zones in the field--the practice known as controlled traffic farming. Where a compacted layer already exists, even on a clay soil, management options to hasten repair should be considered, e.g. tillage, deep ripping, sowing a ley pasture or sowing crop species more effective at repairing compacted soil.

Item Type:Article
Business groups:Agri-Science, Crop and Food Science
Additional Information:© Elsevier B.V.
Keywords:Amelioration; compaction; cone index; soil shear strength; soil water storage; grain yield.
Subjects:Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Soils. Soil science > Soil and crops. Soil-plant relationships. Soil productivity
Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Methods and systems of culture. Cropping systems
Deposited On:03 Feb 2009 03:51
Last Modified:26 Oct 2011 00:05

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