Influence of Composted Dairy Manure and Perennial Forage on Soil Carbon and Nitrogen Fractions during Transition into Organic Management
USDA-ARS, Central Great Plains Research Station 40335 Co. Rd. GG, Akron, CO 80720, USA
Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, Colorado State University, 1170 Campus Delivery, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1170, USA
College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Ohio State University, OARDC, 1680 Madison Ave, Wooster, OH 44691, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Ryusuke Hatano
Agriculture 2017, 7(5), 37; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture7050037
Received: 27 February 2017 / Revised: 3 April 2017 / Accepted: 17 April 2017 / Published: 25 April 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue C and N Cycling and Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Agroecosystem)
Composted dairy manure (CDM) is among the management practices used in transitioning from a conventional to an organic agricultural system. The objectives of this study are to evaluate the impact of several organic nitrogen (N) sources on: (i) soil organic C (SOC) and soil total N (STN) content; (ii) soil C and N distribution among soil fractions; and (iii) N mineralization. This study was initiated in 2007 on a recently renovated alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) field located at the Agricultural Research, Development and Education Center near Fort Collins, Colorado. The soil type is a Fort Collins loam (fine-loamy, mixed, superactive, mesic Aridic Haplustalfs). Alfalfa and sainfoin (Onobrychis viciifolia Scop.) were interseeded with the grass mixtures as organic N sources. Three grass treatments were established with and without alfalfa or sainfoin. The CDM was also applied to the grass and to grass-alfalfa mixture at a rate of 22.4 Mg ha−1 in 2008 and at rates of 0, 11.2, and 22.4 Mg ha−1 in 2009. Soil samples were collected from the 0–5 cm and 5–10 cm depths in the fall of 2008 and 2009. Throughout the study period, SOC and STN were significantly influenced by depth, but not by treatment combinations. Averaged across the treatments, SOC was greater by 13.7% in 2008 and 24.2% in 2009 at 0–5 than the 5–10 cm depth. Similarly, STN was significantly higher by approximately 9.4% at 0–5 cm in 2008 and 18.7% in 2009 compared with the 5–10 cm depth. The C and N parameters studied and their distributions among various fractions (mineralizable, slow, and resistant) were influenced by the C and N contents of the added CDM. The low C and N contents of the CDM added in the second year of the study did not contribute to soil C and N build-up. The results generated from this study supported our hypothesis because the quality of CDM addition highly influenced C and N distribution among different fractions. Overall, for a transitioning system, CDM should to be added based on the manure-N content to ensure an adequate amount of N addition. To fully evaluate treatment benefits, a longer study period would be required to allow for system adjustment.