No-till (NT) crop production is expected to sequester soil C, but little data is available for dairy forage systems. Our objective was to quantify impacts of NT and rye (Secale cereale L.) cover crops on soil C and N pools and associated soil properties on Pennsylvania dairies. Samples were collected from seven fields following corn harvest. The NT fields had approximately 50% more C and N in particulate and mineral-associated pools in the upper 5 cm (2 in) compared to conventional tillage, but C and N accumulations below 5 cm were similar. This suggests a C sequestration rate of ∼0.5 Mg ha-1 y-1 (∼0.2 tn ac-1 yr-1) in the 8 to 13 years NT has been used. Soil aggregate stability and cation exchange capacity were proportional to C pool sizes. Rye cover crops had no clear impact. Findings show that expected increases in C sequestration and soil quality with NT can be achieved in dairy forage systems.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Agronomy and Crop Science
- Water Science and Technology
- Soil Science
- Nature and Landscape Conservation