Browsing by Author "Botha, Pieter Barend"
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- ItemThe effect of long-term tillage practices on selected soil properties in the Swartland wheat production area of the Western Cape(Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2013-03) Botha, Pieter Barend; De Clercq, W. P.; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of AgriSciences. Dept. of Soil Science.ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The effect of long-term tillage on basic soil properties with respect to sustainability was investigated in this dissertation. Over the last three decades soil conservation has become an important prerequisite for sustainable agriculture. The primary aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of different tillage practices on the physical and some of the chemical properties of soil after 37 years of continuous application. This study was conducted on the Langgewens experimental farm, 18 km north of Malmesbury in the Western Cape. The experiment was initiated in 1975 on a Glenrosa (Haploxeralf) soil form with a gravelly sandy-loam texture. It was treated with four main tillage methods, namely conventional, tine, minimum and no-tillage. Important basic soil properties studied were the electrical conductivity (EC) and total carbon percentage, water stable aggregate percentage, bulk density and hydraulic conductivity. Most of the properties were analysed for the 0-100 mm and 100-200 mm depths. Seasonal bulk density variation for the 0-100 mm soil depth was determined by a Troxler surface gamma-neutron meter for in situ measurement. ANOVA’s and Tukey’s LSD posthoc tests were computed to assess whether significant statistical differences existed between tillage treatments. No-tillage proved to be beneficial in terms of salinity and had the lowest electrical conductivity, indicating that salts leeched out of the profile. Total carbon content was in general very low and in the 0-100 mm soil depth it decreased in the order of: no (0.92%), minimum (0.86%), tine (0.83%) and conventional tillage (0.51%). Aggregate stability was significantly the lowest under conventional (47.82%) and tine tillage (45.02%) compared to minimum (61.43%) and no-tillage (78.40%) at 0-100 mm depth. This can be explained by the relatively low amount of total carbon in the soil combined with the tillage intensity. The same trend was observed for the 100-200 mm depth. Significant correlation between total carbon content and aggregate stability for the 0-100 mm confirmed that an increase in total carbon in the soil would lead to an increase in aggregate stability. Significant, increased aggregate stability under the no-tillage treatment would therefore indicate that there may be some stable structure present in the soil. Seasonal bulk density variation was the lowest in no-tillage, which supports the manifestations of stable soil structure. More intensive tillage treatments such as conventional and tine tillage initially showed lower bulk densities, but only for the first month. Thereafter it increased to significantly higher values as the season progressed. This was mainly as a result of hardsetting of the soil which is driven by natural processes and rainfall. It is also due to the sandy loam texture that is particularly prone to compaction. Hydraulic conductivity studied for conventional and no-tillage showed significant differences. No-tillage (41 mm.h-1) showed a noticeably higher conductivity, which remained constant compared to conventional tillage (20 mm.h-1) that decreased over time. The main reasons for this increased hydraulic conductivity under no-tillage was higher water stable aggregates and lower bulk density. In the long term no-tillage thus stimulated structure formation of a Glenrosa soil form that significantly improved soil properties studied. These properties may influence processes such as water infiltration, water storage, run-off and drainage positively, due to soil property interaction. No-tillage, in terms of sustainability, quantified by the soil properties studied, thus proved to be superior compared to conventional and tine tillage but to a lesser extent if compared to minimum tillage.