Effects of strategic tillage on short-term erosion, nutrient loss in runoff and greenhouse gas emissions

Melland, A. R. and Antille, D. L. and Dang, Y. P. (2017) Effects of strategic tillage on short-term erosion, nutrient loss in runoff and greenhouse gas emissions. Soil Research, 55 (3). pp. 201-214. ISSN 1838-675X


Occasional strategic tillage (ST) of long-term no-tillage (NT) soil to help control weeds may increase the risk of water, erosion and nutrient losses in runoff and of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions compared with NT soil. The present study examined the short-term effect of ST on runoff and GHG emissions in NT soils under controlled-traffic farming regimes. A rainfall simulator was used to generate runoff from heavy rainfall (70 mm h–1) on small plots of NT and ST on a Vertosol, Dermosol and Sodosol. Nitrous oxide (N2O), carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) fluxes from the Vertosol and Sodosol were measured before and after the rain using passive chambers. On the Sodosol and Dermosol there was 30% and 70% more runoff, respectively, from ST plots than from NT plots, however, volumes were similar between tillage treatments on the Vertosol. Erosion was highest after ST on the Sodosol (8.3 t ha–1 suspended sediment) and there were no treatment differences on the other soils. Total nitrogen (N) loads in runoff followed a similar pattern, with 10.2 kg ha–1 in runoff from the ST treatment on the Sodosol. Total phosphorus loads were higher after ST than NT on both the Sodosol (3.1 and 0.9 kg ha–1, respectively) and the Dermosol (1.0 and 0.3 kg ha–1, respectively). Dissolved nutrient forms comprised less than 13% of total losses. Nitrous oxide emissions were low from both NT and ST in these low-input systems. However, ST decreased CH4 absorption from both soils and almost doubled CO2 emissions from the Sodosol. Strategic tillage may increase the susceptibility of Sodosols and Dermosols to water, sediment and nutrient losses in runoff after heavy rainfall. The trade-offs between weed control, erosion and GHG emissions should be considered as part of any tillage strategy.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Files associated with this item cannot be displayed due to copyright restrictions.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Date Deposited: 18 Oct 2017 03:48
Last Modified: 14 Jan 2019 01:58
Uncontrolled Keywords: controlled traffic; nitrogen; nitrous oxide; phosphorus; mechanical weed control
Fields of Research (2008): 07 Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences > 0799 Other Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences > 079901 Agricultural Hydrology (Drainage, Flooding, Irrigation, Quality, etc.)
05 Environmental Sciences > 0503 Soil Sciences > 050302 Land Capability and Soil Degradation
07 Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences > 0701 Agriculture, Land and Farm Management > 070101 Agricultural Land Management
Fields of Research (2020): 30 AGRICULTURAL, VETERINARY AND FOOD SCIENCES > 3002 Agriculture, land and farm management > 300201 Agricultural hydrology
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4106 Soil sciences > 410601 Land capability and soil productivity
30 AGRICULTURAL, VETERINARY AND FOOD SCIENCES > 3002 Agriculture, land and farm management > 300202 Agricultural land management
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): D Environment > 96 Environment > 9609 Land and Water Management > 960904 Farmland, Arable Cropland and Permanent Cropland Land Management
B Economic Development > 82 Plant Production and Plant Primary Products > 8298 Environmentally Sustainable Plant Production > 829802 Management of Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Plant Production
Identification Number or DOI: https://doi.org/10.1071/SR16136
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/30837

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