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Ridge Tillage Concentrates Potentially Mineralizable Soil Nitrogen, Facilitating Maize Nitrogen Uptake

Ridge tillage (RT) can promote increases in soil C and aggregation at greater rates than conventional tillage, but few studies have investigated how RT may affect soil N distributions across the row/inter-row space. Using a spatially intensive sampling design, we monitored soil potentially mineralizable N (PMN), inorganic N, and plant tissue N in a field study comparing RT and chisel plow (CP) systems. Experiments were fully replicated at two sites in Urbana, IL and Mason, MI during the 2012 growing season.

Daniel A. Kane, Sieglinde S. Snapp and Adam S. Davis

SOIL SCIENCE of America Society Journal, Published January 13, 2015, Vol. 79 No. 1, p. 81-88

https://www.soils.org/publications/sssaj/abstracts/79/1/81

 

Abstract

 

Ridge tillage (RT) can promote increases in soil C and aggregation at greater rates than conventional tillage, but few studies have investigated how RT may affect soil N distributions across the row/inter-row space. Using a spatially intensive sampling design, we monitored soil potentially mineralizable N (PMN), inorganic N, and plant tissue N in a field study comparing RT and chisel plow (CP) systems. Experiments were fully replicated at two sites in Urbana, IL and Mason, MI during the 2012 growing season. At both sites, a strong interaction effect of tillage × row position was observed for PMN (Illinois, p = 0.005; Michigan, p = 0.02) with higher levels of PMN in the in-row (IR) position than off-row (OR) and between-row (BR) positions of RT treatments following re-ridging. Plant tissue analyses indicated a significant RT advantage at both sites (Illinois, p = 0.04; Michigan, p = 0.02), and a structural equation modeling (SEM) analysis indicated that PMN at the 0- to 5-cm depth in the IR position following re-ridging had a significant effect on inorganic N at the same position and, in turn, a strong influence on plant tissue N (comparative fit index = 0.86, standardized root mean square residual = 0.11, Akaike wt. = 1). Overall, our results suggest that RT can establish soil functional zones (SFZ) with distinct N profiles and that the relocation of PMN in-row may increase the spatial efficiency of N provisioning relative to conventional tillage.

 

Fig. 5. Total per-plant mass N (g) of plants in each tillage treatment (RT, ridge tillage; CP, chisel plow) at the Illinois and Michigan sites and separated by each fraction analyzed. Error bars represent ±SE of the mean of the total mass N (n = 8).

 

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