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Soil carbon fluxes and balances and soil properties of organically amended no-till corn production systems

Shrestha, Raj K., Lal, Rattan, Rimal, Basant
Geoderma 2013 v.197-198 pp. 177-185
Alfisols, Festuca rubra subsp. rubra, Poa pratensis, Secale, Zea mays, air temperature, bulk density, carbon, carbon dioxide, carbon sinks, cattle manure, composts, corn, correlation, cover crops, crop production, electrical conductivity, fallow, field experimentation, grasses, greenhouse gas emissions, greenhouse gases, methane, methane production, no-tillage, organic soils, production technology, rye, soil amendments, soil fertility, soil pH, soil quality, soil temperature, soil treatment, weather, Ohio
The addition of organic amendments is essential for sustainable soil fertility management and crop production, but can also increase greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Thus, understanding the impacts of organic soil amendments on gaseous emissions is pertinent to minimizing agricultural impacts on the net emissions of GHGs. A long-term field experiment was conducted to assess the impacts of continuous application of organic amendments (i.e. compost and farmyard manure) and cover crop [mixture of rye (Secale cereal), red fescue (Festuca rubra), and blue grass (Poa pratensis L.)] on selected soil properties, apparent carbon (C) budget (calculated from the difference of sum of all sources of C inputs and outputs), gaseous flux (i.e. carbon dioxide, CO2, and methane, CH4), and relationship with weather parameters under no-till (NT) corn (Zea mays L.) cultivation in an Alfisol of central Ohio, USA. Soil properties and gaseous fluxes were measured continuously for 2years. Ten years of continuous application of soil amendments increased soil pH and electrical conductivity, enhanced soil C pool, and decreased bulk density especially in 0–5cm depth than that with cover crop and control plots. Two years average, cattle manure, compost, fallow, and cover crop emitted 14.1, 10.2, 7.5, and 7.2Mg CO2–C ha−1yr−1, respectively. Methane emission was 10.7kg CH4–Cha−1yr−1 from cattle manure and 4.0kg CH4–Cha−1yr−1 from compost. However, fallow consumed 3.3 and cover crop 5.0kg CH4–Cha−1yr−1. These data suggest that long-term application of compost in NT corn decreased emissions of CO2 by 38% and of CH4 by 167% compared to application of manuring. In general, soil temperature, air temperature, and precipitation were positively correlated with CO2 emissions. Estimation of C budget indicated that amended soil under NT is a C-sink while a non-amended system is a C-source. The application of composted soil amendments in NT corn enhances soil quality and reduces net GHG emissions.