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Long-Term Manure Impacts on Soil Aggregates and Aggregate-Associated Carbon and Nitrogen

Maysoon M. Mikha, Gary W. Hergert, Joseph G. Benjamin, Jalal D. Jabro, Rex A. Nielsen
Soil Science Society of America journal 2015 v.79 no.2 pp. 626-636
Zea mays, discing, sandy soils, soil organic carbon, irrigation scheduling, nitrogen, microaggregates, fertilizers, plowing, corn, furrow irrigation, sieving, soil sampling, aggregate stability
Long-term studies document that soil properties influenced by management practices occur slowly. The objectives of this study were to evaluate 70 yr of manure (M) and commercial fertilizer (F) additions and moldboard plowing on soil organic C (SOC), soil total N (STN), water-stable aggregates (WSA), and aggregate-associated C and N. The Knorr–Holden plots have been in furrow irrigated continuous corn (Zea mays L.) since 1912 on a Tripp sandy loam (coarse-silty, mixed, superactive, mesic Aridic Haplustoll). Soil samples were collected from the 0- to 5-, 5- to 10-, 10- to 15-, and 15- to 30-cm depths in 2011. Soils were fractionated by wet sieving into four aggregate-size classes (>1000, 500–1000, 250–500, and 53–250 μm). Continuous M amendment increased the SOC in the 0- to 30-cm depth approximately 1.7-fold compared with the F treatment. The combination of F + M further increased SOC in the 0- to 15-cm depth by approximately 36% for the M treatment receiving 90 kg N ha⁻¹ of F (90 + M) and by 16% for the M treatment receiving 180 kg N ha⁻¹ of F (180 + M) compared with the 15- to 30-cm depth. Macroaggregates increased with M and F + M when compared with F with the corresponding increase in microaggregate quantities associated with the F and no-N treatment. In the 0- to 30-cm depth, microaggregates were approximately 1.8 to 4.9 times greater than the macroaggregates. Aggregate-associated C masses were greater in microaggregates than in macroaggregates, which reflects greater amounts of microaggregates present in the soil. A significant, positive correlation was observed between SOC and aggregate-associated C. Overall, the addition of manure-based amendments, with or without F, increased SOC and enhanced aggregate stability.