Soil quality dynamics in an integrated reduced-tillage and cover-cropped vegetable agroecosystem Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/9s161968h

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  • Soil response and function were investigated following the adoption of an integrated reduced-tillage and cover-cropped vegetable system in the Willamette Valley of Western Oregon. The experiment was conducted over three cropping seasons (2002-2004) at the Oregon State University Vegetable Research Farm (Corvallis, OR). The design was a randomized complete-block with four replications of the following three treatments: 1) strip-tillage with winter cover crop; 2) conventional tillage with winter cover crop; and 3) conventional tillage with winter fallow. The objective of this study was to track biological and physical soil properties indicative of soil quality in a silty clay loam during the transition to an integrated vegetable system compared to a conventional system. Additionally, relationships between soil properties and crop yield were assessed, and techniques used to measure earthworm activity were evaluated. The major findings were: 1) biological soil quality indicators responded rapidly to reduced tillage and cover crops, whereas physical soil quality indicators responded differently; 2) crop yield correlated negatively with biological soil quality indicators and soil bulk density; over time correlations became less negative with biological properties and more negative with bulk density; 4) earthworm activity was affected by tillage and cover crops, and both midden counts and mustard solution extraction could detect these differences to varying degrees.
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