Clay soil moisture in spring cereal cultivation as related to tillage management

L. Alakukkua, V. Koivula, A. Palojärvi

Resumen


Conservation tillage with crop covered soil surface has been found to reduce the risk of erosion and nutrient leaching. The reduction of tillage intensity changes topsoil structure affecting soil physical conditions relevant to crop growth. In this study, the effects of autumn tillage management on soil moisture during the growing season of spring barley (Hordeum vulgare) was examined on two fi eld experiments on clay soils (Vertic Cambisol, Eutric Cambisol) in southwestern Finland in 2004–11. The objective of the study was to investigate the effects of reduced tillage intensity on soil moisture conditions of two different clay soils in different weather conditions. Autumn mouldboard ploughing (to 20–25 cm depth, P) was compared to stubble cultivation (10–15 cm, S) and zero tillage (N). During the growing season, soil moisture was determined once a week at the depth of 0−30 cm with a TRASE system I (Time Domain Refl ectometry (TDR)). Daily weather conditions (precipitation, air temperature) were also determined. Zero tilled soil stayed moister than the soil in other tillage treatments. When the beginning of the growing season was dry, higher soil moisture content in zero tilled soil improved the growth conditions of barley. In an unexceptional rainy beginning of growing season, the wetness of clay soils in zero tilled treatment hampered the crop growth and yield production clearly.


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