Surface soil physical properties after twelve years of dryland no-till management
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This study compares the effects of different cropping systems on the surface 2.5 cm of soil in a no-till dryland farming system in Colorado. A wheat-fallow (WF) rotation provided the baseline for comparison with a wheat-corn-fallow (WCF) rotation and continuous cropping (CC). Systems that left more residue on the field had lower bulk density and better porosity than the wheat-fallow system. Macroaggregation correlated to increased amounts of residues and soil clay content. No-till management allows crop intensification because of better water capture and storage; instead of one crop every two years, it is possible and preferable to plant two every three (wheat-corn-fallow) or even practice continuous cropping. Under conditions that increase crop residues, soil properties improve; more intensive production systems will be more productive and sustainable.