Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Agriculture, Forestry, Horticulture, Fishery, Domestic Science, Nutrition
Summary The soil microbial biomass contains important labile pools of C, N, P, and S, and fluctuations in its size and activity can significantly influence crop productivity. In cropping systems where fertilizer use is reduced or eliminated and green-manure legumes are used, nutrient availability is more directly linked to C-cycle dynamics. We observed the fluctuations in microbial biomass C and P, and in microbial biomass activity over three cropping seasons in continuous maize and 2-year maize-wheat-soybean rotation agroecosystems under no-till and reduced-chemical-input management. We estimated the concentrations of microbial C and P using fumigation-incubation and fumigation-extraction techniques for the surface 20 cm of Cecil and Appling series soils (clayey, kaolinitic, thermic, Typic Kanhapludults). There were significant seasonal fluctuations in microbial C and P under all cropping systems. Generally, the magnitude of fluxes and the quantity of microbial C and P tended to be higher in reduced-chemical-input systems due to tillage and incorporation of crop, weed, and legume residues. Over 3 years, the means for microbial C were 435 under reduced-input maize; 289 under no-till maize; 374 und the reduced-input crop rotation; and 288 mg kg-1 soil under the no-till rotation. The means for microbial P were 5.2 under reduced-input maize; 3.5 under no-till maize; 5.0 under the reduced-input rotation; and 3.5 mg kg-1 soil under the no-till rotation. Estimates of microbial activity, derived from CO2−C evolution and specific respiratory activity (mg CO2−C per mg biomass C), suggest that reduced-chemical-input management may cause a larger fraction of the biomass to be relatively “inactive” but may also increase the activity of the remaining fraction over that in no-till. Thus in these specific systems, the turnover of C and P through the microbial biomass with a reduced chemical input to the soil may be higher than under a no-till system.
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