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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2000

Effects of reduced tillage and liming on microbial activity and soil properties in a weakly-structured soil

Stenberg, Maria; Stenberg, Bo; Rydberg, Tomas


The effects of reduced tillage and lime on crop yield and soil physical and microbial properties were studied in a weakly structured silty clay loam soil. Two autumn primary tillage practices were compared, mouldboard ploughing to 20-25 cm and cultivation to 12 cm. Seedbed preparation was carried out by several harrowing operations in the mouldboard ploughed treatment, and with a PTO-driven harrow in the same operation as sowing in the shallow cultivation treatment. The tillage treatments were applied alone or were combined with liming aimed at soil structural improvement. Lime was added as 6.5 Mg CaO ha(-1) before the start of the experiment and mixed into the top 12 cm of soil with a disc cultivator. A 4-year crop rotation was used: spring barley, spring oilseed rape, spring/winter wheat and oats, and all crops were compared each year.:rop residues were retained in the experiment and incorporated at cultivation. Aggregate stability was improved by the shallower tillage depth, probably as an effect of an increase in soil organic matter and a more active microbial biomass. Liming had little effect on soil structure variables but increased microbial activity to some extent. This was reflected in higher crop yields, especially when the shallow tillage depth was combined with liming. Penetration resistance in the seedbed subsoil was highest when mouldboard ploughing was carried out in plots without liming. Data were examined with principal component analyses, and the structures in the data were presented as scores and loading plots, which revealed groupings between samples and relationships between variables, respectively. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.


aggregate stability; mouldboard ploughing; reduced tillage; soil microbial activity; cereal-oil seed rotation; PCA; penetration resistance

Published in

Applied Soil Ecology
2000, volume: 14, number: 2, pages: 135-145

Authors' information

Stenberg, Maria
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Soil Sciences
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Microbiology
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Soil Sciences

UKÄ Subject classification

Soil Science
Agricultural Science

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