One-time tillage of no-till systems: Soil physical properties, phosphorus runoff, and crop yield

J. A. Quincke, C. S. Wortmann, M. Mamo, T. Franti, R. A. Drijber, J. P. García

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


Continuous no-till (NT) has numerous benefits, including improved soil aggregate stability in the surface soil and increased rate of water infiltration, but accumulation of soil P at the soil surface with NT can increase P concentration in runoff. We hypothesized that occasional one-time tillage of NT land, conducted once in 10 or more years, can reduce P runoff and improve crop yields without reducing soil aggregation or increasing runoff. Research was conducted in long-term NT fields under rainfed corn [Zea mays (L.)] or sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench.] rotated with soybeans [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] at two locations in eastern Nebraska. Tillage treatments were applied in the spring or fall and included continuous NT, tandem disk (disk), chisel with 10-cm-wide twisted shanks, moldboard plow (MP), and mini-moldboard plow (miniMP). Subplots had either 0 or 87.4 kg P ha-1 applied as composted feedlot manure before tillage. Yield and yield components were measured for 2 and 3 yr after the spring and fall one-time tillage, respectively. In Year 2 or 3 after tillage, soil sorptivity, field-saturated infiltration rate, runoff volume, runoff P loss, and soil aggregate stability were determined. Yield was not affected by the tillage x compost interaction, but was increased by compost application at one location and sorghum yield was affected by tillage treatments at the second location. Grain yield was never significantly more or less with one-time tillage as compared with NT. Soil aggregate stability was not affected by tillage treatments. Sorptivity and infiltration were increased with MP tillage compared with NT at one location but reduced at the other. One-time MP tillage reduced dissolved P loss at both locations and total phosphorus (TP) loss at one location. The benefit of one-time MP tillage in terms of reduced dissolved reactive P loss in runoff was positive with no negative effect on soil aggregate stability but no gain in yield.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1104-1110
Number of pages7
JournalAgronomy Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science


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