Sloping farmland is prevalent in hilly red soil areas of South China. Improper tillage patterns induce decreased soil organic matter, soil aggregate breakdown, and nutrient imbalance, thereby restricting crop production. However, the stoichiometric characteristics could reflect the nutrient availability which was mostly studied on bulk soil. The stoichiometric characteristics of soil aggregates with multiple functions in farmlands has rarely been studied. The study was to reveal the impact of tillage patterns on the size distribution, nutrient levels, and stoichiometric ratios of soil aggregates after 20 years’ cultivation. Soil samples of 0–20 cm and 20–40 cm from five tillage patterns, bare-land control (BL), longitudinal-ridge tillage (LR), conventional tillage + straw mulching (CS), cross-ridge tillage (CR), and longitudinal-ridge tillage + hedgerows (LH) were collected. The elemental content (C, N and P) and soil aggregate size distribution were determined, and the stoichiometric ratios were subsequently calculated. Through our analysis and study, it was found that the nutrient content of >2 mm soil aggregates in all plots was the highest. In the hedgerow plots, >2 mm water-stable soil aggregate content was increased. Therefore, LH plots have the highest content of organic matter and nutrients. After 20 years of cultivation, stoichiometric ratio of each plot showed different changes on soil aggregates at different levels. the C:N, C:P, and N:P ratios are lower than the national average of cultivated land. Among of them, the stoichiometric ratio in the LH plot is closer to the mean and showed better water-stable aggregate enhancement. Therefore, longitudinal-ridge tillage + hedgerows can be recommended as a cultivation measure. This study provides a reference for determining appropriate tillage measures, balancing nutrient ratios, and implementing rational fertilization.
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