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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Aggregate breakdown during tillage in a Mediterranean loamy soil

Published source details

Álvaro-Fuentes J., Arrúe J.L., Cantero-Martínez C. & López M.V. (2008) Aggregate breakdown during tillage in a Mediterranean loamy soil. Soil and Tillage Research, 101, 62-68


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Soil: Use reduced tillage in arable fields Mediterranean Farmland

A replicated, randomized, controlled, before-and-after study in 2004 in a barley field in the Ebro river valley, Spain, found that tillage had inconsistent effects on soil aggregation. Soil erosion and aggregation: Soil aggregates were smaller immediately after reduced tillage, compared to conventional tillage, in two of five comparisons (1.8–1.9 vs 2.3 mm dry mean weight diameter; 29–35 vs 2–16% reduction in dry mean weight diameter). Soil aggregates were smaller after 15 years of reduced tillage, compared to conventional tillage, in three of ten comparisons (1.8–2.2 vs 2.3–2.6 mm dry mean weight diameter). Soil aggregates were more stable after 15 years of reduced tillage, compared to conventional tillage, in four of ten comparisons (16–20 vs 12–15% water stability). Methods: Reduced tillage or conventional tillage was used on three plots each (33.5 x 10 m plots), in 1989–2004. A chisel plough was used for reduced tillage (20–25 cm depth). A mouldboard plough was used for conventional tillage (30–35 cm depth). Soil samples were collected before (8 November) and after (15 November) the soils were tilled (flat spade, 0–40 cm depth, two subsamples/plot).