|Strategic tillage on a Grey Vertosol after fifteen years of no-till management had no short-term impact on soil properties and agronomic productivity
|Year of Publication
|Liu H, Crawford M, Carvalhais LC, Dang YP, Dennis PG, Schenk PM
|MicroResp™, One-time tillage, Soil bacterial communities, T-RFLP, Weed control, Wheat
Over half of the arable land in the northern grains region of Australia is managed using no-till (NT), a farming method which has improved crop yields and soil quality while reducing the input and labour costs. However, concerns have arisen among farmers over the control of weeds in continuous NT systems. An occasional targeted tillage operation (termed strategic tillage — ST) has been proposed as a management tool to reduce problem weed populations but may adversely influence soil properties and those of associated microbial communities. To assess the potential impacts of a ST operation on soil properties, a Grey Vertosol with fifteen years of NT in Northern New South Wales, Australia was tilled using either a chisel cultivator or disc chain on March 15th 2013 or on April 5th 2013. We hypothesised that ST using these minimal or low soil inversion implements at either timing would not adversely influence soil properties in the short-term (4–7 weeks). The measured soil properties were soil volumetric moisture content (VMC), pH, bulk density (BD), electrical conductivity (EC), available phosphorus (P), soil organic carbon (SOC), microbial biomass carbon (MBC), metabolic activity (MA), genetic structures of bacterial communities and wheat yield (t ha− 1). We found that ST with either a chisel cultivator or a disc chain has great potential to assist in weed management as it did not statistically influence crop productivity or the physical, chemical and biological properties of the soil, regardless of the tillage timing.