Applied Ecology and Environmental Sciences
ISSN (Print): 2328-3912 ISSN (Online): 2328-3920 Website: Editor-in-chief: Alejandro González Medina
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Applied Ecology and Environmental Sciences. 2020, 8(6), 517-525
DOI: 10.12691/aees-8-6-26
Open AccessArticle

Soil Enzyme Activities Associated with Differential Outcomes of Contrasting Approaches to Soil Fertility Management in Corn and Soybean Fields

Nicola Lorenz1, , Brian B. McSpadden Gardener2, Nathan R. Lee3, Cliff Ramsier2 and Richard P. Dick1

1The Ohio State University, School of Environment and Natural Resources, 2021 Coffey Rd., Columbus, OH 43210, USA

2Ag Spectrum, 428 E. 11th St., Box 215, De Witt, IA 52742-0215, USA

3Battelle Memorial Institute, Crop Protection, 1425 Plain City-Georgesville Road, State Route 142 NE, West Jefferson, OH 43162, USA

Pub. Date: October 30, 2020

Cite this paper:
Nicola Lorenz, Brian B. McSpadden Gardener, Nathan R. Lee, Cliff Ramsier and Richard P. Dick. Soil Enzyme Activities Associated with Differential Outcomes of Contrasting Approaches to Soil Fertility Management in Corn and Soybean Fields. Applied Ecology and Environmental Sciences. 2020; 8(6):517-525. doi: 10.12691/aees-8-6-26


Sustainable agricultural practices such as reduced tillage and optimized fertilization may have potential to improve soil health and increase availability of plant nutrients and yields. However, there is very little information relating soil quality or health to crop productivity, particularly under farmer management. Therefore, the objective was to investigate the effects of two contrasting approaches to crop fertility management on crop productivity, soil test measurements, and soil enzyme activity as integrative measures of soil health. A three year study was conducted at on-farm sites in Ohio, Illinois, and Iowa where topsoil (0-15 cm) and crop yield of Zea mays L. (corn) and Glycine max. (L.) Merr. (soybean) rotations were collected from two contrasting fertility management systems. The two contrasting approaches tested were the Maximum Farming System (MFSyst) and a more Conventional system (Conv) that differ in approaches to tillage and the frequency of fertilizer applications during the growing season. The MFSyst approach resulted in significantly higher yields, soil nutrient test levels along with β-glucosidase (GLU) and arylsulfatase (ARYL) which are sensitive soil health indicators. Nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) of corn was significantly elevated by nearly 18%, corn yield correlated with GLU activities, and soil test phosphorous (P) levels were reduced by over 50% using the MFSyst approach. These results indicate that improvements in soil health detected by soil GLU and ARYL enzyme activities are associated with significant improvements in soil quality and crop productivity.

soil fertility management soil health soil enzyme activities soil organic matter corn nitrogen use efficiency soybean

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