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Individual study: Responses of soil microbial processes and community structure to tillage events and implications for soil quality

Published source details

Jackson L.E., Calderon F.J., Steenwerth K.L., Scow K.M. & Rolston D.E. (2003) Responses of soil microbial processes and community structure to tillage events and implications for soil quality. Geoderma, 114, 305-317


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Change tillage practices Soil Fertility

A controlled replicated experiment in 2000-2002 on a silt loam soil in California, USA (Jackson et al. 2003) found that tillage decreased soil quality, increasing greenhouse gas emissions and potential nitrate loss. Carbon dioxide lost from soil was highest in disked soil (39 mgCO2 m2/h) immediately after tillage. When irrigated, highest carbon dioxide loss was from no-till soil (161 mgCO2 m2/h). Nitrate levels were consistently higher in tilled than no-till soil. Two weeks after tillage, tilled soils held twice as much nitrate as no-till (12 μg NO3-N/g and 6 μg NO3-N/g respectively). Nitrogen loss from tilled soil was consistently higher in tilled than no-till soil. Tillage caused immediate changes in soil microbial community structure. There were three treatments (rototilled, disk, and no-till control), replicated three times (field scale, but area not specified). Soil cores from each replication were taken over eight sampling times. Soil carbon and nitrogen were measured. Microbial community structure was described.