U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


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Amorim HC, Ashworth AJ, Brye KR, et al. Soil quality indices as affected by long-term burning, irrigation, tillage, and fertility management. Soil Sci Soc Am J. 2021;85:379–395. https://doi.org/10.1002/saj2.20188




Understanding the impacts of long-term agricultural practices on soil quality (SQ) is key for sustaining agroecosystem productivity. This study investigated conventional and no-tillage (NT), residue burning and no burning, residue level (high and low), and irrigation (irrigated and dryland) effects on soil properties, SQ, and crop yields following 16 yr of a wheat (Triticum aestivum L.)–soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] double-crop system via the Soil Management Assessment Framework (SMAF). A field experiment was conducted in the Lower Mississippi River Delta region on a silt-loam soil. Bulk density, soil organic C (SOC), total N (TN), pH, electrical conductivity (EC), and soil P and K from the 0- to 10-cm soil depth were used as SQ indicators investigated individually and as an overall soil quality index (SQI). Following 16 yr, residue burning reduced SOC (1.1%) compared with no burning (1.24%). Irrigation resulted in greater soil TN than dryland management systems (p < 0.05). Reduced soil pH and extractable soil P and K occurred under NT, high residue, and irrigated treatments. Irrigation increased soybean yields, regardless of the tillage system. Burned, NT–high residue management increased wheat yields (3.45 Mg ha−1). Irrigation reduced SQ because of low EC and K scores. High residue reduced SQ compared with the low residue treatment within NT systems, owing to low pH scores. The SMAF indices identified the impacts of irrigation, NT, and optimal N fertilization on SQ. Monitoring of soil pH, P, and K may be needed to maintain SQ in long-term wheat–soybean systems.

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