Agronomy and Horticulture Department


Date of this Version



Journal of Agriculture and Food Research 14 (2023) 100802. Journal of Agriculture and Food Research 14 (2023)


Open access.


Crop residue removal may negatively affect soil mechanical properties, which are key components of soil quality. To evaluate potential long-term effects, we assessed the 10-yr impact of corn (Zea mays L.) residue removal (59 % of non-grain biomass annually) on surface soil mechanical properties (0–20 cm). We also evaluated whether adding carbon (C) amendments, such as using a winter rye (Secale cereale L.) cover crop or surface-applying cattle manure (24 Mg ha− 1 biannually) can ameliorate the effects of crop residue removal. This long-term study was under irrigated no-till continuous corn on a silt loam soil in south-central Nebraska, USA. Measurements included soil penetration resistance, field bulk density, aggregate strength, Atterberg limits (liquid limit, plastic limit, and plasticity index), Proctor maximum bulk density, and the water content at which the Proctor maximum bulk density (critical water content) occurs. Reduction in soil organic carbon (SOC) concentration explained most of the changes in soil mechanical properties. Long-term corn residue removal increased penetration resistance (+40 %) for the 0–20 cm depth, and reduced aggregate strength (− 44 %), plasticity index (− 22 %), and critical water content (− 13 %) in the 0–5 cm depth. Residue removal also reduced field bulk density (− 5%), liquid limit (− 12 %), and plastic limit (− 10 %) in the 0–10 cm depth, but increased Proctor maximum bulk density (+8 %) in the 0–5 cm depth. Winter rye cover crop reduced field bulk density (− 5%, 0–15 cm depth) and increased penetration resistance (+52 %, 0–20 cm depth). Surface-applied manure amendments increased the near-surface soil liquid limit (+8 %) and plastic limit (+8 %) in the 0–5 cm depth. Given the high rate of residue removal used in this experiment, our findings support that excessive corn residue removal over the long-term (~10 years) negatively affects near-surface soil mechanical properties, but that use of winter rye cover crop or surface-applied manure can minimally to partially ameliorate these effects