Effects of reduced tillage, crop residue management and manure application practices on crop yields and soil carbon sequestration on an Andisol in northern Japan




Soil carbon sequestration in agricultural lands has been deemed a sustainable option to mitigate rising atmospheric CO_2 levels. In this context, the effects of different tillage and C input management (residue management and manure application) practices on crop yields, residue C and annual changes in total soil organic C (SOC) (0-30cm depth) were investigated over one cycle of a 4-year crop rotation (2003-2006) on a cropped Andisol in northern Japan. For tillage practices, the effects of reduced tillage (no deep plowing, a single shallow harrowing for seedbed preparation [RT]) and conventional deep moldboard plow tillage (CT) were compared. The combination of RT, residue return and manure application (20Mg ha^<-1> in each year) increased spring wheat and potato yields significantly; however, soybean and sugar beet yields were not influenced by tillage practices. For all crops studied, manure application enhanced the production of above-ground residue C. Thus, manure application served not only as a direct input of C to the soil, but the greater crop biomass production engendered enhanced subsequent C inputs to the soil from residues. The SOC contents in both the 0-5cm and 5-10cm layers of the soil profile were greater under RT than under CT treatments because the crop residue and manure were densely incorporated into the shallow soil layers. Comparatively, neither tillage nor C input management practices had significant effects on annual changes in SOC content in either the 10-20cm or 20-30cm layers of the soil profile. When soil C sequestration rates, as represented by annual changes in total SOC (0-30cm), were assessed on a total soil mass basis, an ANOVA showed that tillage practices had no significant effect on total C sequestration, but C input management practices had significant positive effects (P≤0.05). These results indicate that continuous C input to the soil through crop residue return and manure application is a crucial practice for enhancing crop yields and soil C sequestration in the Andisol region of northern Japan.


  • Soil science and plant nutrition

    Soil science and plant nutrition 55(4), 546-557, 2009-08-01


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