Each rotation phase can affect soil carbon balance differently over decades


Maillard, É., McConkey, B.G., Angers, D.A. (2018). Each rotation phase can affect soil carbon balance differently over decades. Canadian Journal of Soil Science, [online] 98(3), 584-588. http://dx.doi.org/10.1139/cjss-2018-0013

Plain language summary

It is expensive for researchers to make many soil measurements. One question that researchers have is whether they could get the same results by measuring only one part of each cropping system in a long-term cropping system study. To answer this question, we investigated the results from separate phases of 30 years of a long-term study. We discovered that the results varied between the two parts of a cropping system, even after the 30 years. The results also showed that interactions with weather patterns over the years do not balance out. Therefore, one part of a cropping system is different than the other and the effects of treatments will be interpreted differently. It is best for researchers to measure the full cropping system, even in long-term experiments that run over many decades.


Researchers may consider the soil effects for one phase representative for the entire long-term rotation. We showed that soil carbon can differ between rotation phases. We recommend sampling all phases for determining the tillage effect across the rotation and, otherwise, to interpret considering potential impacts of sampling one rotation phase.

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