No tillage combined with crop rotation improves soil microbial community composition and metabolic activity.

Sun, B., Jia, S., Zhang, S., McLaughlin, N.B., Liang, A.-Z., Chen, X., Liu, S.-Y., and Zhang, X.-P. (2015). "No tillage combined with crop rotation improves soil microbial community composition and metabolic activity.", Environmental Science and Pollution Research, pp. 1-11. doi : 10.1007/s11356-015-5812-9  Access to full text

Abstract

Soil microbial community can vary with different agricultural managements, which in turn can affect soil quality. The objective of this work was to evaluate the effects of long-term tillage practice (no tillage (NT) and conventional tillage (CT)) and crop rotation (maize-soybean (MS) rotation and monoculture maize (MM)) on soil microbial community composition and metabolic capacity in different soil layers. Long-term NT increased the soil organic carbon (SOC) and total nitrogen (TN) mainly at the 0–5 cm depth which was accompanied with a greater microbial abundance. The greater fungi-to-bacteria (F/B) ratio was found in NTMS at the 0–5 cm depth. Both tillage and crop rotation had a significant effect on the metabolic activity, with the greatest average well color development (AWCD) value in NTMS soil at all three soil depths. Redundancy analysis (RDA) showed that the shift in microbial community composition was accompanied with the changes in capacity of utilizing different carbon substrates. Therefore, no tillage combined with crop rotation could improve soil biological quality and make agricultural systems more sustainable.

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