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


Document Type


Date of this Version

September 1998


Published in Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 62:1393-1397 (1998).


Returning crop residue improves water conservation and storage, nutrient availability, and crop yields. We have little knowledge, however, of the residual impacts of crop residues on soil and crop production. We hypothesized that residual impacts of crop residues vary with the amount of residues used. A 10-yr study near Lincoln, NE, evaluated the residual effects of an earlier 8-yr study of various crop residue amounts on crop growth and selected soil properties. From 1978 through 1985, crop residues were returned at 0,50, 100, and 150% of the quantity produced by the previous crop (averaging 0 to =6 Mg ha-1 yr-1). Continuous corn (Zea mays L.) was produced 1986 through 1995 on these plots, except sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench] was substituted in several years. To study management effects on residual responses, plots were subdivided with or without tillage, N fertilizer (60 kg N ha-1), and hairy vetch (Vicia villosa L.) cover crop. Residual effects of the 150% residue amount increased grain production 16% compared with the 0% amount (4900 vs. 4250 kg ha-1, respectively), and were not affected by time or other management practices. Increasing previous residue amount did enhance soil N availability (from 73.0 to 82.3 kg autoclavemineralizable N ha-1) and Bray soil P (16.7 to 20.3 kg ka-1). These results are among the first to show that residual effects of crop residue are prolonged (half-life of = 10 yr) and probably result from changes in soil properties that enhance soil nutrient availability.