Individual study: Dynamics of soil extractable carbon and nitrogen under different cover crop residues
Zhou X., Chen C., Wu H. & Xu Z. (2012) Dynamics of soil extractable carbon and nitrogen under different cover crop residues. Journal of Soils and Sediments, 12, 844-853
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Grow cover crops when the field is empty
A controlled, randomized, replicated experiment in 2009-2010 on sandy clay soil in south-eastern Australia (Zhou et al. 2012) found higher levels of soil carbon and nitrogen under all cover crops (vetch Vicia villosa (12.6 and 810.3), pea Pisum sativum (12.6 and 752.5), wheat Triticum aestivum (14.8 and 807.5), oat Avena strigosa (10 and 770), and mustard Brassica juncea (10.45 and 777.5)), compared to the control (6.8 mg C/kg dry soil, 622.5 mg N/kg dry soil respectively). There were no differences in carbon or nitrogen levels between legume and non-legume cover crops. Crop residue quantity was highest in wheat (143 g/m2) compared to vetch (163 g/m2), pea (110 g/m2) and mustard (100 g/m2). Six cover crop treatments (4 × 10 m) included: two legume crops (vetch, pea); three non-legume crops (wheat, Saia oat, Indian mustard); and a no-crop control. There were three replicates of each treatment. Five soil samples were taken from each plot to 10 cm depth.