Research Article
Effect of Mechanized Tillage Operations on Soil Physical Properties and Greenhouse Gases Fluxes in Two Agricultural Fields

Nsalambi V. Nkongolo, Kanta Kuramochi and Hatano Ryusuke

Research Journal of Environmental Sciences, 2008, 2(2), 68-80.


Soil management practices may affect greenhouse gases emissions and exacerbate global warming. We studied the short-term effect of mechanized tillage operations on soil properties and CO2, CH4, NO and N2O fluxes in a corn and soybean fields. The study was conducted from June to December 2001 at Hokkaido University in Sapporo (Japan). The soil of the experimental site is classified as Eutric Fluvisols (FAO). Two plots of 20 m long by 30 m width each were isolated in fields planted to corn (Zea mays) and soybean (Glucine max). Plot interrows were compacted by 1, 2, 3 and 4 cycles a tractor. Soil and air samples were collected for measuring CO2, CH4, NO and N2O fluxes and other soil properties. Results showed that soil volumetric water content (θv), bulk density (ρb), the pore tortuosity factor (τ) and Soil Penetration Resistance (SPR) increased while air-filled porosity (ƒa), Total Pore Space (TPS) and the soil gas diffusion coefficient (Ds/Do) decreased linearly with increasing tractor cycle in both corn (p< 0.0001) and soybean (p< 0.01) fields. In corn field, CO2 (p< 0.0011), NO (p< 0.0257) and N2O (p< 0.0116) fluxes increased quadratically with increasing tractor cycle. In soybean field, CO2 and CH4 fluxes increased while N2O and NO fluxes decreased linearly with increasing tractor cycle. CO2 (r = 0.45, p< 0.003) and N2O (r = 0.45, p< 0.003) fluxes were significantly correlated with soil penetration resistance in corn and soybean field, respectively. Increasing tractor cycle deteriorated soil physical properties and increased greenhouse gas fluxes. More studies are needed to determine if these effects are permanent or only temporary on both soil and gas fluxes.

ASCI-ID: 68-76

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