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Dynamics of aggregate destabilization by water in soils under long-term conservation tillage in semiarid Spain

AuthorsBlanco-Moure, Nuria CSIC; Moret-Fernández, David CSIC ORCID ; López Sánchez, María Victoria CSIC ORCID
KeywordsWater aggregate stability
No tillage
Soil organic carbon
Dryland cereal farming
Issue DateDec-2012
CitationBlanco-Moure N, Moret-Fernández D, López-Sánchez MV. Dynamics of aggregate destabilization by water in soils under long-term conservation tillage in semiarid Spain. Catena 99: 34-41 (2012)
AbstractDue to particular soil and climate conditions and inappropriate agricultural practices, Aragon (NE Spain) is a region prone to land degradation by water erosion. For this reason, the adoption of conservation tillage systems has been encouraged as an alternative to preserve soil and water in this region. However, little information concerning soils on which these techniques are applied is available. The main objectives of this study were to assess the effect of long-term no tillage (NT) on wateraggregate stability in five different cereal production areas of Aragon and identify the main mechanisms involved on aggregate breakdown. The study was conducted under on-farm conditions where pairs of adjacent fields under NT and conventional tillage (CT) were compared. In all cases, a nearby undisturbed soil under native vegetation was included. Soils were slightly to highly calcareous with medium textures ranging from sandy loam to silty clay loam. Results indicate that NT increased surface aggregate stability with respect to CT systems through lower soil disturbance and higher organic carbon (OC) content at the soil surface (0–5 cm depth). Slaking was the dominant disaggregation process of the cultivated soils, representing 40–80% of total soil disruption, and was strongly and negatively affected by aggregate-associated OC. This soil property together with the silt content (weak and positive effect) explained more than 80% of the slaking variation. Swelling and clay dispersion were less frequent processes and their occurrence seemed to be associated with high silt and CaCO3 contents. This study shows that, under the rainfed conditions of semiarid Aragon, NT reduces the susceptibility of soil surface to crusting and water erosion as compared to CT systems.
Description33 Pags., 4 Tabls., 4 Figs. The definitive version is available at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/03418162
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.catena.2012.07.010
Appears in Collections:(EEAD) Artículos
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