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Long-term Management Impacts On Soil C, N And Physical Fertility: Part I: Broadbalk Experiment

N. Blair, R. Faulkner, A. Till, P. Poulton
Published 2006 · Geology

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Abstract For many centuries manure application to the soil has been common practice. Organic amendments and fertiliser applications can increase crop yields and soil organic matter (SOM). However, the long-term impacts on soil physical fertility are often neglected. This study was carried out on the Broadbalk Wheat Experiment at Rothamsted, UK, established in 1843 on an Aquic/Typic Paleudalf soil. Application of farmyard manure (FYM), N fertiliser and wheat straw on total organic C ( C T ), labile C ( C L ) and non-labile C ( C NL ), total N ( N T ), mean weight diameter (MWD) and unsaturated hydraulic conductivity ( K unsat ) were studied on wheat ( Triticum aestivum ) and adjacent woodland and pasture areas. Manure additions, N fertiliser and straw incorporation increased all C fractions, particularly the C L fraction. The addition of 35 t ha −1  year −1 of FYM increased C T to 2.5 times that of the control (no fertiliser) treatment and C L to 5 times that of the control. With highest N application and straw returned, C T increased by 1.3 times and C L by 1.5 times that of the control treatment. There were linear relationships between rate of N fertiliser applied and all C fractions, with the rate of increase almost double with straw than straw removed. Manure application improved MWD, as did high N fertiliser additions with straw returned. Application of N fertiliser only increased MWD and K unsat (at 10 mm tension) if straw was returned, while the addition of manure resulted in decreased K unsat . The highest K unsat rate was on the high N fertiliser, straw returned treatments. The uncropped areas all had high soil structural stability. Similar relationships occurred between all C fractions and N T and MWD for the high C soils, but relationships were much stronger with C L than the other C fractions in the low C soils. These results showed that soils with low C concentration are more reliant on C L for structural stability.
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