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Open AccessArticle

Effects of Reduced Tillage on Crop Yield, Plant Available Nutrients and Soil Organic Matter in a 12-Year Long-Term Trial under Organic Management

1
Institute of Crop Science, Coordination for Organic Farming and Consumer Protection (340d), University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart 70593, Germany
2
Institute of Crop Science, Agronomy (340a), University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart 70593, Germany
3
Claus-Felix Teufel, Landratsamt Konstanz, Amt für Landwirtschaft Stockach, Winterspürer-Str. 25, Stockach 78333, Germany
4
Institute of Crop Science, Bioinformatics (340c), University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart 70593, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Sustainability 2013, 5(9), 3876-3894; https://doi.org/10.3390/su5093876
Received: 14 June 2013 / Revised: 4 September 2013 / Accepted: 6 September 2013 / Published: 12 September 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Organic Farming and a Systems Approach to Sustainable Agroecosystems)
A field experiment was performed in Southwest Germany to examine the effects of long-term reduced tillage (2000–2012). Tillage treatments were deep moldboard plow: DP, 25 cm; double-layer plow; DLP, 15 + 10 cm, shallow moldboard plow: SP, 15 cm and chisel plow: CP, 15 cm, each of them with or without preceding stubble tillage. The mean yields of a typical eight-year crop rotation were 22% lower with CP compared to DP, and 3% lower with SP and DLP. Stubble tillage increased yields by 11% across all treatments. Soil nutrients were high with all tillage strategies and amounted for 34–57 mg kg−1 P and 48–113 mg kg−1 K (0–60 cm soil depth). Humus budgets showed a high carbon input via crops but this was not reflected in the actual Corg content of the soil. Corg decreased as soil depth increased from 13.7 g kg−1 (0–20 cm) to 4.3 g kg−1 (40–60 cm) across all treatments. After 12 years of experiment, SP and CP resulted in significantly higher Corg content in 0–20 cm soil depth, compared to DP and DLP. Stubble tillage had no significant effect on Corg. Stubble tillage combined with reduced primary tillage can sustain yield levels without compromising beneficial effects from reduced tillage on Corg and available nutrient content. View Full-Text
Keywords: organic farming; reduced tillage; soil organic carbon; plant available nutrients; long-term trial; humus budget; Corg; mineralization; moldboard plow; chisel plow; conservation tillage organic farming; reduced tillage; soil organic carbon; plant available nutrients; long-term trial; humus budget; Corg; mineralization; moldboard plow; chisel plow; conservation tillage
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Zikeli, S.; Gruber, S.; Teufel, C.-F.; Hartung, K.; Claupein, W. Effects of Reduced Tillage on Crop Yield, Plant Available Nutrients and Soil Organic Matter in a 12-Year Long-Term Trial under Organic Management. Sustainability 2013, 5, 3876-3894.

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