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Sustaining productivity of a Vertisol at Warra, Queensland, with fertilisers, no-tillage, or legumes. 1. Organic matter status

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Dalal, R.C., Strong, W.M., Weston, E.J., Cooper, J.E., Lehane, K.J., King, A.J. and Chicken, C.J. (1995) Sustaining productivity of a Vertisol at Warra, Queensland, with fertilisers, no-tillage, or legumes. 1. Organic matter status. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture, 35 (7). pp. 903-913. ISSN 0816-1089


Article Link: https://doi.org/10.1071/EA9950903


Management practices involving legume leys, grain legumes, and no-tillage and stubble retention, along with nitrogen (N) fertiliser application for wheat cropping, were examined for their effectiveness in increasing soil organic matter (0-10 cm depth) from 1986 to 1993 in a field experiment on a Vertisol at Warra, Queensland. The treatments were (i) grass + legume leys (purple pigeon grass, Setaria incrassata; Rhodes grass, Chloris gayana; lucerne, Medicago sativa; annual medics, M. scutellata and M. truncatula) of 4 years duration followed by continuous wheat; (ii) 2-year rotation of annual medics and wheat (Triticum aestivum cv. Hartog); (iii) 2-year rotation of lucerne and wheat; (iv) 2-year rotation of chickpea (Cicer arietinum cv. Barwon) and wheat; (v) no-tillage (NT) wheat; and (vi) conventional tillage (CT) wheat. Fertiliser N as urea was applied to both NT wheat and CT wheat at 0,25, and 75 kg N/ha. year. The CT wheat also received N at 12.5 and 25kg N/ha. year. After 4 years, soil organic carbon (C) concentration under grass + legume leys increased by 20% (650 kg C/ha. year) relative to that under continuous CT wheat. Soil total N increased by 11, 18, and 22% after 2, 3, and 4 years, respectively, under grass + legume leys relative to continuous CT wheat. These increases in soil organic matter were mostly confined to the 0-2.5 cm layer. After the start of wheat cropping, organic C and total N levels declined steadily but were still higher than under CT wheat and higher than initial values in December 1985. Although 2-year rotations of lucerne-wheat and medic-wheat had a small effect on soil organic C, soil total N concentrations were higher than in the chickpea-wheat rotation and continuous CT wheat from November 1990 to November 1992. Soil under chickpea-wheat rotation had organic C and total N concentrations similar to continuous CT wheat, although from the former, about 70 kg/ha. year of extra N was removed in the grain from 1989 to 1993. No-tillage practice had a small effect on soil organic C, although total N concentration was higher than under CT wheat in November 1993. These effects were mainly confined to the surface 0-2.5 cm depth. The C to N ratio was only affected in soil under grass + legume leys, and no-tillage treatments. These data show that restoration of soil organic matter in Vertisol requires grass + legume leys, primarily due to increased root biomass, although soil total N can be enhanced by including legume leys for longer duration in cropping systems in the semi-arid and subtropical environment.

Item Type:Article
Subjects:Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Soils. Soil science > Soil and crops. Soil-plant relationships. Soil productivity
Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Soil conservation and protection
Live Archive:14 Feb 2024 03:39
Last Modified:14 Feb 2024 03:39

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