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No-tillage and nitrogen application affects the decomposition of 15N-labelled wheat straw and the levels of mineral nitrogen and organic carbon in a Vertisol

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Dalal, R.C., Strong, W.M., Cooper, J.E. and King, A.J. (2007) No-tillage and nitrogen application affects the decomposition of 15N-labelled wheat straw and the levels of mineral nitrogen and organic carbon in a Vertisol. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture, 47 (7). pp. 862-868.

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Article Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/EA06118

Publisher URL: http://www.publish.csiro.au


No-tillage (NT) practice, where straw is retained on the soil surface, is increasingly being used in cereal cropping systems in Australia and elsewhere. Compared to conventional tillage (CT), where straw is mixed with the ploughed soil, NT practice may reduce straw decomposition, increase nitrogen immobilisation and increase organic carbon in the soil. This study examined 15N-labelled wheat straw (stubble) decomposition in four treatments (NT v. CT, with N rates of 0 and 75 kg/ha.year) and assessed the tillage and fertiliser N effects on mineral N and organic C and N levels over a 10-year period in a field experiment. NT practice decreased the rate of straw decomposition while fertiliser N application increased it. However, there was no tillage practice x N interaction. The mean residence time of the straw N in soil was more than twice as long under the NT (1.2 years) as compared to the CT practice (0.5 years). In comparison, differences in mean residence time due to N fertiliser treatment were small. However, tillage had generally very little effect on either the amounts of mineral N at sowing or soil organic C (and N) over the study period. While application of N fertiliser increased mineral N, it had very little effect on organic C over a 10-year period. Relatively rapid decomposition of straw and short mean residence time of straw N in a Vertisol is likely to have very little long-term effect on N immobilisation and organic C level in an annual cereal cropping system in a subtropical, semiarid environment. Thus, changing the tillage practice from CT to NT may not necessitate additional N requirement unless use is made of additional stored water in the soil or mineral N loss due to increased leaching is compensated for in N supply to crops.

Item Type:Article
Corporate Creators:Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation (DEEDI), Agri-Science, Crop and Food Science, Plant Science
Business groups:Crop and Food Science
Additional Information:© CSIRO.
Keywords:Conventional tillage; nitrogen; no-tillage practice; straw.
Subjects:Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Soils. Soil science
Live Archive:16 Apr 2009 02:59
Last Modified:03 Sep 2021 16:43

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