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No-tillage, crop residue additions, and legume cover cropping effects on soil quality characteristics under maize in Patzcuaro watershed (Mexico)

AuthorsRoldán Garrigos, Antonio ; Caravaca Ballester, María Fuensanta CSIC ORCID; Hernández Fernández, María Teresa; García Izquierdo, Carlos; Sánchez-Brito, C.; Velásquez, M.; Tiscareño, M.
KeywordsMicrobial biomass C
Conservation management
Aggregate stability
Microbial activity
Crop residues
Soil enzymes
Issue DateJul-2003
CitationSoil and Tillage Research 72(1): 65-73 (2003)
AbstractIntensive maize (Zea mays L.) cropping based on conventional tillage practices has resulted in soil quality degradation in the Patzcuaro Watershed in central Mexico. A field experiment with seven soil management treatments was implemented on a sandy loam Andisol to evaluate the impact on soil quality of maize cropping with conventional tillage, no-tillage with varying percentages of surface residue coverage (0, 33, 66 and 100%), and no-tillage with 33% residue coverage together with cover crops of either Vicia sp. or Phaseolus vulgaris L. The treatments of no-tillage under crop residue coverage were established in 1995 and the leguminous species were planted in 1998. By 2000, the alternative management treatments had increased soil enzymes, soil organic C, biodegradable C fractions such as water soluble C, water soluble carbohydrates, and microbial biomass C, and soil wet aggregate stability, compared to the CT treatment. Wet aggregate stability was increased by adopting no-tillage and even further by additional residue. Most soil quality characteristics improved in direct proportion to residue inputs. The use of no-tillage management together with a moderate amount of crop residue (33%) and planted to leguminous species rapidly improved some soil quality characteristics. We conclude that conservation tillage practices can provide an alternative technology contributing to sustainable agriculture in the Patzcuaro watershed of Mexico, which can be extrapolated to similar areas elsewhere in Latin America.
Description9 pages, 3 tables.
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