Cultivation Intensity In Relation To Organic Matter And Related Properties In A Vertisol In Southern Turkey
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John Ryan, Selim Kapur, Hayriye Ibrikci, Murari Singh. (11/7/2011). Cultivation Intensity In Relation To Organic Matter And Related Properties In A Vertisol In Southern Turkey. JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE, 35 (6), pp. 613-623.
As most of the organic carbon (C) in the biosphere resides in the soil in the form of soil organic matter (SOM), tillage practices can potentially increase C losses to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, thus contributing to greenhouse gases that exacerbate climate change. In the past century, conventional tillage, involving plowing and secondary cultivation, has unwittingly decreased C stocks in arable soils in North America, Europe, and Australia. The information on the effects of tillage on soil C and related properties in the Mediterranean region is scant, with evidence of resilience being even rarer. While long-term trials that directly measure tillage effects are rare in the Mediterranean, the alternative is a retrospective based on soil management history. In this study of a Vertisol in southern Turkey, we sampled sections of a field that had been intensively cultivated for about 20 years and 40 years, as well as a section left undisturbed in native vegetation for 14 years following years of conventional tillage. The SOM and total nitrogen (N) values were inversely related to cultivation intensity or duration, while the highest values were from the uncultivated site. Labile biomass C and N values followed the same trends with cultivation, whereas available P increased with cultivation time; in contrast, the percentage of water-stable aggregates decreased with cultivation duration. The study showed that such clay soils show a high degree of resilience and can recover in a relatively short time period if left uncultivated or in fallow. While preservation or set aside of arable crop land is not a viable option for farmers, reducing tillage intensity is feasible. The study suggests that minimum tillage or no-till could promote resilience and mitigate the adverse soil effects of conventional tillage that have already occurred.
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