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Effects of agricultural management on dermosols in northern Tasmania

W. E. Cotching, J. Cooper, L. A. Sparrow, B. E. McCorkell and W. Rowley

Australian Journal of Soil Research 40(1) 65 - 79
Published: 08 February 2002


Attributes of 15 Tasmanian dermosols were assessed using field and laboratory techniques to determine changes associated with 3 typical forms of agricultural management: long-term pasture, cropping with shallow tillage using discs and tines, and cropping (including potatoes) with more rigorous and deeper tillage including deep ripping and powered implements. Soil organic carbon in the surface 75 mm was 7.0% under long-term pasture compared with 4.3% and 4.2% in cropped paddocks. Microbial biomass carbon concentrations were 217 mg/kg, 161 mg/kg, and 139 mg/kg, respectively. These differences were negatively correlated with the number of years cropped. Greater bulk densities were found in the surface layer of cropped paddocks but these were not associated with increased penetration resistance or decreased infiltration rate and are unlikely to impede root growth. Long-term pasture paddocks showed stronger structural development and had smaller clods than cropped paddocks. Vane shear strength and penetration resistance were lower in cropped paddocks than under long-term pasture. Many soil attributes showed no significant differences associated with management. Including potatoes in the rotation did not appear to affect these dermosols, which indicates a degree of robustness in these soils.

clay loams, organic carbon, soil strength, aggregate stability, land management, cropping.

Keywords: clay loams, organic carbon, soil strength, aggregate stability, land management, cropping.

© CSIRO 2002

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