Soil nitrogen conservation with continuous no-till management

John T. Spargo, Marcus M. Alley, Ronald F. Follett, James V. Wallace

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Tillage management is an important regulator of organic matter decomposition and N mineralization in agroecosystems. Tillage has resulted in the loss of considerable organic N from surface soils. There is potential to rebuild and conserve substantial amounts of soil N where no-till management is implemented in crop production systems. The objectives of our research were to measure N conservation rate with continuous no-till management of grain cropping systems and evaluate its impact on mineralizable and inorganic soil N. Samples were collected from 63 sites in production fields using a rotation of corn (Zea mays L.)-wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) or barley (Hordeum vulgare L.)-double-crop soybean (Glysine max L.) across three soil series [Bojac (Coarse-loamy, mixed, semiactive, thermic Typic Hapludults), Altavista (Fine-loamy, mixed semiactive, thermic Aquic Hapludults), and Kempsville (Fine-loamy, siliceous, subactive, thermic Typic Hapludults)] with a history of continuous no-till that ranged from 0 to 14 yrs. Thirty-two of the sites had a history of biosolids application. Soil cores were collected at each site from 0-2.5, 2.5-7.5 and 7.5-15 cm and analyzed for total N, Illinois soil N test-N (ISNT-N), and [NH4 + NO3]-N. A history of biosolids application increased the concentration of total soil N by 154 ± 66.8 mg N kg-1 (310 ± 140 kg N ha-1) but did not increase ISNT-N in the surface 0 - 15 cm. Continuous no-till increased the concentration of total soil N by 9.98 mg N kg-1 year-1 (22.2 ± 21.2 kg N ha-1 year-1) and ISNT-N by 1.68 mg N kg-1 year-1 in the surface 0-15 cm. The implementation of continuous no-till management in this cropping system has resulted in conservation of soil N.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)283-297
Number of pages15
JournalNutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Soil Science


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