See more from this Session: Research Symposium Contest Oral Session II
Sunday, October 16, 2011: 3:15 PM
Henry Gonzalez Convention Center, Room 210B, Concourse Level
Monitoring the changes of soil properties over time is important to better manage our farm, as well as to protect our natural resources. Modification of farming systems from conventional tillage to no till and organic based farming practices may change soil quality indicators. Soil properties such as soil organic matter (SOM), Soil pH, total N (TN), water holding capacity (WHC), bulk density (BD), total porosity, and aggregate stability (AS) are considered vital soil quality indicators. This study was designed to determine the effects of different farming practices in western Kentucky on selected soil properties. Soil samples from five fields were collected from the Murray State University farm in Calloway County, Kentucky. Soil samples were taken from the depths of 0-7.5 cm and 7.5-15 cm. The five fields were (1) sod as a control field, (2) 3 years of organic farm (OF3), 5 years of organic farm (OF5), (4) 15 years of no-tillage systems (NT), and 15 years of conventional tillage (CT) systems. The results show that organic farming and no tillage practices resulted in improving SOM, TN, BD, porosity and AS. The highest values of these properties were found in the 5-yr organic farming plots and the lowest were in 15-yr conventional tillage systems at the depth of 0 to 15 cm. After 5 years, organic farming practices have better soil structure as indicated by a lower bulk density of 15% than in 15 years of conventional tillage. The ability of soil to hold water increased about 22% after 5 years of organic farming when comparing it to 15-yr of conventional tillage farming practices. Better soil quality under organic farming and no till practices indicates that continued organic matter input can gradually improve soil properties. Therefore, proper management of soil must be carefully considered when utilizing our available agriculture resources.