Biochemical proxies indicate differences in soil C cycling induced by long-term tillage and residue management in a tropical agroecosystem

Andrew J. Margenot, Mirjam M. Pulleman, Rolf Sommer, Birthe K. Paul, Sanjai J. Parikh, Louise E. Jackson, Steven J. Fonte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background & aim: A potential benefit of conservation agriculture (CA) is soil organic carbon (SOC) accrual, yet recent studies indicate limited or no impact of CA on total SOC in tropical agroecosystems. We evaluated biochemical indicators of soil C cycling after 9 years (18 seasons) of contrasting tillage with and without maize residue retention in western Kenya. Methods: Potential activities of C-cycling enzymes (β-glucosidase, GLU; β-galactosidase, GAL; glucosaminidase, GLM; cellobiohydrolase, CEL), permanganate-oxidizable C (POXC), and soil organic matter (SOM) composition (by infrared spectroscopy) were measured. Results: POXC tended to be greater under reduced tillage and residue retention, but did not significantly differ among treatments (≤ 2% of SOC). Despite no significant differences in SOC concentrations or stocks, activities of all 4 C-cycling enzymes responded strongly to tillage, and to a lesser extent to residue management. Activities of GLU, GAL, and GLM were greatest under the combination of reduced tillage and residue retention relative to other treatments. Reduced tillage produced an enrichment in carboxyl C = O (+6%) and decreased polysaccharide C-O (−3.5%) relative to conventional tillage irrespective of residue management. Conclusions: Though enzyme activities and POXC are typically associated with SOC accrual, changes in soil C cycling at this site have not translated into significant differences in SOC after 9 years. Elevated enzyme activities may have offset potential SOC accumulation under CA. However, the ratio of C-cycling enzyme activities to SOC was higher under reduced tillage and residue retention relative to other treatments, indicating that stoichiometric scaling of SOC and enzyme activities does not explain absence of significant differences in SOC among tillage and residue managements. Potential factors that may explain the low SOC accrual rates in this tropical agroecosystem included the low, albeit realistic, levels of residue retention, nutrient limitations, and high temperatures favoring decomposition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)315-329
Number of pages15
JournalPlant and Soil
Volume420
Issue number1-2
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2017

Fingerprint

agricultural ecosystem
agroecosystems
soil organic carbon
tillage
organic carbon
soil
reduced tillage
enzyme activity
agriculture
cellulose 1,4-beta-cellobiosidase
galactosidases
glucosidases
nutrient retention
enzyme
infrared spectroscopy
enzymes
conventional tillage
nutrient limitation
Kenya
polysaccharide

Keywords

  • Conservation agriculture
  • Enzyme activities
  • Glucosidase
  • Kenya
  • Residue
  • Soil organic carbon
  • Tillage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science
  • Plant Science

Cite this

Biochemical proxies indicate differences in soil C cycling induced by long-term tillage and residue management in a tropical agroecosystem. / Margenot, Andrew J.; Pulleman, Mirjam M.; Sommer, Rolf; Paul, Birthe K.; Parikh, Sanjai J.; Jackson, Louise E.; Fonte, Steven J.

In: Plant and Soil, Vol. 420, No. 1-2, 01.11.2017, p. 315-329.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Margenot, Andrew J. ; Pulleman, Mirjam M. ; Sommer, Rolf ; Paul, Birthe K. ; Parikh, Sanjai J. ; Jackson, Louise E. ; Fonte, Steven J. / Biochemical proxies indicate differences in soil C cycling induced by long-term tillage and residue management in a tropical agroecosystem. In: Plant and Soil. 2017 ; Vol. 420, No. 1-2. pp. 315-329.
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abstract = "Background & aim: A potential benefit of conservation agriculture (CA) is soil organic carbon (SOC) accrual, yet recent studies indicate limited or no impact of CA on total SOC in tropical agroecosystems. We evaluated biochemical indicators of soil C cycling after 9 years (18 seasons) of contrasting tillage with and without maize residue retention in western Kenya. Methods: Potential activities of C-cycling enzymes (β-glucosidase, GLU; β-galactosidase, GAL; glucosaminidase, GLM; cellobiohydrolase, CEL), permanganate-oxidizable C (POXC), and soil organic matter (SOM) composition (by infrared spectroscopy) were measured. Results: POXC tended to be greater under reduced tillage and residue retention, but did not significantly differ among treatments (≤ 2{\%} of SOC). Despite no significant differences in SOC concentrations or stocks, activities of all 4 C-cycling enzymes responded strongly to tillage, and to a lesser extent to residue management. Activities of GLU, GAL, and GLM were greatest under the combination of reduced tillage and residue retention relative to other treatments. Reduced tillage produced an enrichment in carboxyl C = O (+6{\%}) and decreased polysaccharide C-O (−3.5{\%}) relative to conventional tillage irrespective of residue management. Conclusions: Though enzyme activities and POXC are typically associated with SOC accrual, changes in soil C cycling at this site have not translated into significant differences in SOC after 9 years. Elevated enzyme activities may have offset potential SOC accumulation under CA. However, the ratio of C-cycling enzyme activities to SOC was higher under reduced tillage and residue retention relative to other treatments, indicating that stoichiometric scaling of SOC and enzyme activities does not explain absence of significant differences in SOC among tillage and residue managements. Potential factors that may explain the low SOC accrual rates in this tropical agroecosystem included the low, albeit realistic, levels of residue retention, nutrient limitations, and high temperatures favoring decomposition.",
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T1 - Biochemical proxies indicate differences in soil C cycling induced by long-term tillage and residue management in a tropical agroecosystem

AU - Margenot, Andrew J.

AU - Pulleman, Mirjam M.

AU - Sommer, Rolf

AU - Paul, Birthe K.

AU - Parikh, Sanjai J.

AU - Jackson, Louise E.

AU - Fonte, Steven J.

PY - 2017/11/1

Y1 - 2017/11/1

N2 - Background & aim: A potential benefit of conservation agriculture (CA) is soil organic carbon (SOC) accrual, yet recent studies indicate limited or no impact of CA on total SOC in tropical agroecosystems. We evaluated biochemical indicators of soil C cycling after 9 years (18 seasons) of contrasting tillage with and without maize residue retention in western Kenya. Methods: Potential activities of C-cycling enzymes (β-glucosidase, GLU; β-galactosidase, GAL; glucosaminidase, GLM; cellobiohydrolase, CEL), permanganate-oxidizable C (POXC), and soil organic matter (SOM) composition (by infrared spectroscopy) were measured. Results: POXC tended to be greater under reduced tillage and residue retention, but did not significantly differ among treatments (≤ 2% of SOC). Despite no significant differences in SOC concentrations or stocks, activities of all 4 C-cycling enzymes responded strongly to tillage, and to a lesser extent to residue management. Activities of GLU, GAL, and GLM were greatest under the combination of reduced tillage and residue retention relative to other treatments. Reduced tillage produced an enrichment in carboxyl C = O (+6%) and decreased polysaccharide C-O (−3.5%) relative to conventional tillage irrespective of residue management. Conclusions: Though enzyme activities and POXC are typically associated with SOC accrual, changes in soil C cycling at this site have not translated into significant differences in SOC after 9 years. Elevated enzyme activities may have offset potential SOC accumulation under CA. However, the ratio of C-cycling enzyme activities to SOC was higher under reduced tillage and residue retention relative to other treatments, indicating that stoichiometric scaling of SOC and enzyme activities does not explain absence of significant differences in SOC among tillage and residue managements. Potential factors that may explain the low SOC accrual rates in this tropical agroecosystem included the low, albeit realistic, levels of residue retention, nutrient limitations, and high temperatures favoring decomposition.

AB - Background & aim: A potential benefit of conservation agriculture (CA) is soil organic carbon (SOC) accrual, yet recent studies indicate limited or no impact of CA on total SOC in tropical agroecosystems. We evaluated biochemical indicators of soil C cycling after 9 years (18 seasons) of contrasting tillage with and without maize residue retention in western Kenya. Methods: Potential activities of C-cycling enzymes (β-glucosidase, GLU; β-galactosidase, GAL; glucosaminidase, GLM; cellobiohydrolase, CEL), permanganate-oxidizable C (POXC), and soil organic matter (SOM) composition (by infrared spectroscopy) were measured. Results: POXC tended to be greater under reduced tillage and residue retention, but did not significantly differ among treatments (≤ 2% of SOC). Despite no significant differences in SOC concentrations or stocks, activities of all 4 C-cycling enzymes responded strongly to tillage, and to a lesser extent to residue management. Activities of GLU, GAL, and GLM were greatest under the combination of reduced tillage and residue retention relative to other treatments. Reduced tillage produced an enrichment in carboxyl C = O (+6%) and decreased polysaccharide C-O (−3.5%) relative to conventional tillage irrespective of residue management. Conclusions: Though enzyme activities and POXC are typically associated with SOC accrual, changes in soil C cycling at this site have not translated into significant differences in SOC after 9 years. Elevated enzyme activities may have offset potential SOC accumulation under CA. However, the ratio of C-cycling enzyme activities to SOC was higher under reduced tillage and residue retention relative to other treatments, indicating that stoichiometric scaling of SOC and enzyme activities does not explain absence of significant differences in SOC among tillage and residue managements. Potential factors that may explain the low SOC accrual rates in this tropical agroecosystem included the low, albeit realistic, levels of residue retention, nutrient limitations, and high temperatures favoring decomposition.

KW - Conservation agriculture

KW - Enzyme activities

KW - Glucosidase

KW - Kenya

KW - Residue

KW - Soil organic carbon

KW - Tillage

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