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No tillage in rainfed Aragon (NE Spain): Effect on organic carbon in the soil surface horizon

AutorLópez Sánchez, María Victoria ; Blanco-Moure, Nuria ; Limón Rodríguez de Segovia, María Ángeles ; Gracia Ballarín, Ricardo
Palabras claveConservation tillage
Soil organic matter;
On-farm research
Dryland cereal farming
Crop residues
Fecha de publicación2012
CitaciónLópez MV, Blanco-Moure N, Gracia R. No tillage in rainfed Aragon (NE Spain): Effect on organic carbon in the soil surface horizon. Soil and Tillage Research 118: 61-65 (2012)
ResumenConservation tillage has been encouraged as a management alternative to preserve soil and water resources in semiarid Aragon (NE Spain). In fact, its adoption by farmers, and especially of no tillage (NT) systems, has increased in recent years. However, little information concerning the soils on which these techniques are applied is available for this region. The objective of this study was to assess the potential of NT to increase organic carbon content at the soil surface (0–20 cm) in rainfed Aragon. To this aim, 22 pairs of adjacent farm fields under NT and conventional tillage (CT) were compared in different cereal production areas. The fields were under continuous NT between 5 and 19 years but half were over 10 years. Soil organic carbon (SOC) in NT ranged from 7.06 to 18.53 g kg−1 (0–20 cm depth) and was higher than 12 g kg−1 in nearly 30% of the fields. These contents represented between 8% less (only one case) and 55% more SOC under NT than under CT with an average gain of 20% in favour of NT. The highest SOC contents were found in the NT fields of longer duration (>10 years) and/or managed with practices that enhance the return of more crop biomass to the soil (complete residue return, cropping intensification and manure application). The identification of the current management practices used by farmers has allowed us to know the diversity of the NT-based cropping systems and the reality of the conservation agriculture in our region. Overall, results from this on-farm study indicate that NT can be recommended as a viable alternative to CT to increase organic carbon at the soil surface in cereal production areas of Aragon.
Descripción25 Pags., 7 Figs. The definitive version is available at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/01671987
Versión del editorhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.still.2011.10.012
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