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In agricultural systems, healthy soil is vital to produce quality crops over a long period of time. The Rodale Vegetable Systems Trials (VST) is a continuous experiment that began in 2017 designed to understand the interactive effects between tillage and fertility regimes. Intense tillage regimes release carbon deposits, while reduced tillage does not. Furthermore, conventional chemical fertilizers typically hurt soil health but are cost effective while being nutrient rich contrary to organic fertilizers. The interactive effects between fertilizer and tillage have yet to be defined, but are seen to influence soil carbon levels. To assess labile carbon available to microbes, we examined two soil health indicators: Particulate organic matter carbon (POM-C), and permanganate oxidizable carbon (POX-C), from 6 time points over a span of 3 years. We expect conventional tillage and conventional fertility regimes to show the lowest POM-C and POX-C levels, while fields with organic fertility and conventional tillage management are predicted to have the highest POM-C and POX-C levels by the 3-year mark. Establishing reliable soil health measures allows farmers to assess the effectiveness of their management routines for producing nutrient crops while reducing the negative effects from agriculture.
Imboden, Diane, "Effect of Conventional vs. Organic Tillage and Fertility Management Routines on Soil Carbon" (2021). Biology Presentations. 34.
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