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Crop Science
Year: 2008  |  Volume: 48  |  Issue: 3  |  Page No.: 1211 - 1218

Soil Compaction, Corn Yield Response, and Soil Nutrient Pool Dynamics within an Integrated Crop-Livestock System in Illinois

Benjamin F. Tracy and Yan Zhang    

Abstract: Integrated crop–livestock systems directly link crop and livestock production together to generate positive economic and environmental outcomes. Some methods used in integrated systems, like winter grazing on cropland, could negatively affect soil properties and crop productivity. We compared soil compaction, corn (Zea mays L.) yield, and soil nutrient pools between an integrated crop–livestock system and continuous corn system to address this issue. The study was conducted near Pana, IL, between 2002 and 2006. Soil compaction was evaluated indirectly by measuring soil penetration resistance (PR) and surface CO2 effluxes. Total soil C, N, and microbial biomass C, were measured from 2002 to 2005. Soil PR and CO2 effluxes showed inconsistent trends related to soil compaction and cattle presence. Corn yield from 2004 to 2006 was higher (P = 0.01) in the integrated system (11.6 Mg ha–1) compared with continuous corn (10.6 Mg ha–1). Total soil C concentration increased significantly from 2002 to 2005 within components of the integrated system but remained unchanged in continuous corn. Microbial biomass C was also higher in the integrated system but only in 2005. The study determined that integration of crops with livestock had generally positive effects on crop yield and soil organic matter despite the potential for livestock to compact soil during winter grazing.

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