Evaluating the Effect of Tillage on Carbon Sequestration Using the Minimum Detectable Difference Concept1 1 Project supported by the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

X. M. YANG, C. F. DRURY, M. M. WANDER, B. D. KAY

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Three long-term field trials in humid regions of Canada and the USA were used to evaluate the influence of soil depth and sample numbers on soil organic carbon (SOC) sequestration in no-tillage (NT) and moldboard plow (MP) corn (Zea mays L.) and soybean (Glycine max L.) production systems. The first trial was conducted on a Maryhill silt loam (Typic Hapludalf) at Elora, Ontario, Canada, the second on a Brookston clay loam (Typic Argiaquoll) at Woodslee, Ontario, Canada, and the third on a Thorp silt loam (Argiaquic Argialboll) at Urbana, Illinois, USA. No-tillage led to significantly higher SOC concentrations in the top 5 cm compared to MP at all 3 sites. However, NT resulted in significantly lower SOC in sub-surface soils as compared to MP at Woodslee (10-20 cm, P = 0.01) and Urbana (20-30 cm, P < 0.10). No-tillage had significantly more SOC storage than MP at the Elora site (3.3 Mg C ha-1) and at the Woodslee site (6.2 Mg C ha-1) on an equivalent mass basis (1350 Mg ha-1 soil equivalent mass). Similarly, NT had greater SOC storage than MP at the Urbana site (2.7 Mg C ha-1) on an equivalent mass basis of 675 Mg ha-1 soil. However, these differences disappeared when the entire plow layer was evaluated for both the Woodslee and Urbana sites as a result of the higher SOC concentrations in MP than in NT at depth. Using the minimum detectable difference technique, we observed that up to 1 500 soil sample per tillage treatment comparison will have to be collected and analyzed for the Elora and Woodslee sites and over 40 soil samples per tillage treatment comparison for the Urbana to statistically separate significant differences in the SOC contents of sub-plow depth soils. Therefore, it is impracticable, and at the least prohibitively expensive, to detect tillage-induced differences in soil C beyond the plow layer in various soils.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)421-430
Number of pages10
JournalPedosphere
Volume18
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2008

Keywords

  • carbon sequestration
  • minimum detectable difference
  • moldboard plow
  • no-tillage
  • soil depth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science

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