Changes in an Ohio Prairie Soil as the Result of Cultivation
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Citation:The Ohio Journal of Science. v86, n4 (September, 1986), 171-176
A comparison between an undisturbed soil and an adjacent soil which has been under cultivation for 100 to 150 years showed significant differences in chemical, physical, and morphological properties. Additions of fertilizer and agricultural lime to the cultivated site significantly increased the amount of P and Ca in the surface and upper subsurface horizons. Available K increased in only the surface horizon. The addition of agricultural lime significantly increased the pH of the surface of the cultivated site to 6.7 compared to the undisturbed site which had a pH of 5.8. Organic C content of the surface horizon decreased as much as 58% in the cultivated site compared to the undisturbed site. Loss of organic C can be attributed to 1) enhanced microbial activity brought about by increased aeration of the surface horizon by tillage, and 2) deep plowing which can mix lower carbon subsurface materials into the surface. Alterations in the physical characteristics of the surface horizon were illustrated by change from a porous, moderate granular type structure in the uncultivated surface to a more massive, weak subangular blocky structure in the cultivated surface. Bulk density values also bore out this difference with a 16% increase in the cultivated surface horizon. The subsurface horizon exhibited similar trends. These physical changes can be attributed to tillage operations and loss of organic binding agents. The undisturbed site was classified as a Mollic Hapludalf, a soil influenced by prairie vegetation; the cultivated soil was classified as a Typic Hapludalf, having lost the properties associated with prairie vegetation. Thus, cultivation has also altered the taxonomic classification of the soil.
Author Institution: Department of Agronomy, The Ohio State University, and The Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center
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