Effects of tillage, rotation and cover crop on the physical properties of a silt-loam soil
 
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1
Department of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, Lincoln University, 307 Founders Hall, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0029, USA
2
Department of Soil, Environmental and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Missouri, Natural Resources Building, 302 Anheuser-Busch, Columbia, MO 65211-0001, USA
3
Faculty Institute of Agricultural Sciences (IFA), Yangambi, B.P. 1232, Kisangani, Democratic Republic of Congo
 
Int. Agrophys. 2015, 29(2): 137–145
 
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ABSTRACT
Soil and crop management practices can affect the physical properties and have a direct impact on soil sustainability and crop performance. The objective of this study was to investigate how soil physical properties were affected by three years of tillage, cover crop and crop rotation treatments in a corn and soybean field. The study was conducted on a Waldron silty- loam soil at Lincoln University of Missouri. Soil physical properties studied were soil bulk density, volumetric and gravimetric water contents, volumetric air content, total pore space, air-filled and water-filled pore space, gas diffusion coefficient and pore tortuosity factor. Results showed significant interactions (p<0.05) between cover crop and crop rotation for bulk density, gravimetric and total pore space in 2013. In addition, cover crop also significantly interacted (p<0.05) with tillage for bulk density and total pore space. All soil physical properties studied were significantly affected by the depth of sampling (p<0.0001), except for bulk density, the pore tortuosity factor and total pore space in 2012, and gravimetric and volumetric in 2013. Overall, soil physical properties were significantly affected by the treatments, with the effects changing from one year to another. Addition of a cover crop improved soil physical properties better in rotation than in monoculture.
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