Castellini, Mirko and Niedda, Marcello and Pirastru, Mario and Ventrella, Domenico (2014) Temporal changes of soil physical quality under two residue management systems. Soil Use and Management, Vol. 30 (3), p. 423-434. ISSN 0266-0032. eISSN 1475-2743. Article.
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Although crop residue management is known to affect near-surface soil physical quality, little is known about the temporal variability of these indicators over short time intervals. This study evaluates the temporal changes of nine indicators of soil physical quality. These are organic carbon content, structural stability index, bulk density, macroporosity, air capacity, relative field capacity, plant available water capacity, Dexter's S-index and saturated hydraulic conductivity. A second set of soil physical indicators, based on the distribution of soil pore volume, was also evaluated. The indicators were determined in three different times during the growing cycle of winter durum wheat cultivated within a long-term field research carrying out in Southern Italy and comparing two types of crop residue management, that is, burning (B) and soil incorporation (I). Only the bulk density changed over time for both treatments, although the air capacity also changed for the incorporation of wheat residues. Residual effects of the autumnal soil tillage and soil compaction were a common source of variability, irrespective of which treatment was used. Based on the existing guidelines for evaluating the physical quality of these agricultural soils, optimal or near-optimal values were detected in about half of the cases under consideration. This suggests that both B and I create sufficiently good conditions for crop growth during the crop cycle. The comparison between observed and optimal soil pore distribution function was always poor. The pore volume distributions showed lower densities of small pores and relatively higher densities of large pores than the proposed optimal distribution. This study also suggests that the considered optimal or references curves probably cannot be applied successfully to a wide range of agricultural soils.
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