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Long-term agricultural land use affects chemical and physical properties of soils from southwest Saskatchewan

Cade-Menun, B.J., L.D. Bainard, K. LaForge, M. Schellenberg, B. Houston and C. Hamel. 2017. Long-term agricultural land use affects chemical and physical properties of soils from southwest Saskatchewan. Can. J. Soil Sci. 97:650-666.

Abstract

© Her Majesty the Queen in right of Canada 2017.Understanding nutrient cycling under different land uses can improve agricultural management practices. In southwestern Saskatchewan, long-term land use as annual cropland, native grassland pasture, tame (planted) crested wheatgrass grasslands, or roadsides altered soil physical and chemical properties based on the intensity and frequency of disturbance, with cropland > roadsides > tame grassland > native grassland. The majority of significant differences were detected at the soil surface (0-7.5 cm); few significant differences below 15 cm suggested that the soils were not significantly different prior to changes in land use. Bulk density was increased in cropland soils compared with native grassland, probably from compaction from farm equipment, and in tame pastures due to their past use as croplands. Croplands also had decreased carbon and organic phosphorus (P) and increased Olsen P compared with grasslands, from crop removal and fertilizer inputs. Roadsides, an important but poorly studied land use in Saskatchewan, had increased clay and Olsen P concentrations compared with native grassland. Roadsides were disturbed during road building and remained disturbed because of runoff from adjacent fields and dust from roads. These results on soil chemical and physical properties, combined with soil microbiology information, will help to improve land management and nutrient use efficiency in soils of this region.

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