Tillage Effects on Selected Physical Properties of Grantsburg Silt Loam

B. K. Kitur, K. R. Olson, J. C. Siemens, S. R. Phillips

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The objective of the project was to determine the effects of tillage on soil physical properties. A tillage project, involving three treatments with eight replications [no-tillage (NT), chisel plowing (CP), and moldboard plowing (MP)], was initiated in the spring of 1989 in southern Illinois. The soil on which the work was conducted was a Grantsburg silt loam (fine-silty, mixed, mesic Typic Fragiudalf), with a root-restricting ffagipan found at an average depth of 64 + 14 cm from the soil surface. Corn (Zea mays L.) and soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] were grown on the plot area on a yearly rotation. The soil physical properties evaluated were: Penetration resistance; bulk density; aggregate stability; and pore size distribution by water-release. Tillage effects on soil penetration resistance were mainly confined to the plow-layer (i.e. top 23 cm of soil). Generally, the cone index (Cl) values for the top 23 cm of soil for all treatments were below 2MPa, except at midseason in 1991, a dry year. Penetration resistance differences due to tillage treatments were not caused by differences in soil water content. Soil bulk density was generally highest for NT at planting, however, the bulk density for CP and MP increased later in the season attaining values comparable to those of NT treatment. Chiseling and moldboard plowing reduced soil aggregate stability. Soil temperature at planting was lower for no-tillage compared to the moldboard plowed system. Effects of tillage on pore size distribution, for the first two years of the experiment, were significant only at planting. Total porosity was higher for MP than CP and NT in both years. At midseason, 1991, total porosity was lower with MP than with NT and CP. The improved NT crop performance relative to the CP and MP treatments could also be related to better seed bed and root bed conditions following soybean (third year) than sod (first year) and better weed control. Initial crop yield advantages of MP over the conservation tillage systems (NT and CP) deteriorated over time, resulting in decreased soil aggregation, total porosity and soil productivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1509-1527
Number of pages19
JournalCommunications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis
Issue number13-14
StatePublished - Aug 1 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Soil Science


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