Archive | Soil Health & Biodiversity

The WICST team conducted a number of chemical, physical and biological tests on the soils in the cropping systems trial. The goal was to evaluate the changes in soil characteristics under the different systems over time.

Long term effects of common Midwestern agroecosystems on soil organic carbon

Soil organic carbon (SOC) is highly sensitive to agricultural land management. As a result there is a great deal of interest in using cultivated soils to sequester atmospheric CO2. In this study we evaluate the impact of six cropping systems on SOC levels at the Wisconsin Integrated Cropping System Trial (WICST) over a 20 year [...] More »

Soil erosion, soil conditioning index, soil tillage intensity rating and fall soil nitrates summary from WICST dataset

Maintaining and increasing crop production requires maintaining soil quality. Jokela et al (2011) summarized the 18-year impact of the WICST cropping systems on a suite of soil quality factors (e.g., aggregate size, bulk density, microbial biomass, total organic carbon, potentially mineralizable N) that were subsequently integrated into a Soil Quality Index (SQI). The [...] More »

Soil organic carbon changes in six Midwestern cropping systems in southern Wisconsin

The purpose of this study is to compare the six cropping systems of WICST over their initial 12 years at the wetter LAC and better-drained ARL sites for their impact on soil carbon concentrations. We hypothesize the following: 1) initial SOC levels will be higher at the wetter site (LAC>ARL); 2) since all the systems [...] More »

Midwest Cropping Systems Effects on Soil Properties and on a Soil Quality Index

ABSTRACT Cropping systems may improve or decrease soil quality depending on the specific crop rotation, nutrient amendments, and tillage practices employed. We conducted this study to determine the effect of six cropping systems in the Wisconsin Integrated Cropping Systems Trial on soil properties after 18 years of continuous treatments. We sampled soils (0-5-cm and 5-20-cm depths) following the corn (Zea [...] More »

The Dynamics of Root Growth under Different Management Systems

The research quantified the dynamics of root development for corn. The line intersect technique was utilized in order to estimate the root length and the health status of roots at different nodes. Intact rooting systems were sampled from plants at different dates. However, simple measurements with this technique do not yield an overall [...] More »

Long-Term Cropping System Effects on Soil Properties and on a Soil Quality Index

Intensive row-crop production can lead to soil degradation over time if insufficient biomass return, intensive tillage, or excessive erosion lead to depletion of soil organic C. Soil quality may be improved by incorporating forage crops or grazing into the rotation, adding manure or other organic sources, and shifting to minimum tillage. We evaluated a range [...] More »

Response of Herbivores and Natural Enemies to Organic and Conventional Management of Field Crops

Organic agricultural production in the United States has continued to expand; the amount of organically managed land doubled from 1990-2002 and again from 2002-2005 (USDA 2009). The rising prevalence of organic farming systems in the agricultural landscape has necessitated efforts to understand their ecological impacts. Numerous studies have found greater abundances of predatory or beneficial insects on organic compared [...] More »

Endogeic and Anecic Earthworm Abundance in Six Midwestern Cropping Systems

ABSTRACT Endogeic and juvenile anecic abundance was measured in soil samples and anecic populations were studied by counting midden numbers at the sites of two long-term cropping systems trials in South-central Wisconsin. The three grain and three forage systems at each site were designed to reflect a range of Midwestern USA production strategies. The primary objectives [...] More »

Effects on Ground-dwelling Arthropods on WICST 1995-1997

Arthropods were collected from pitfall traps (1995-96), soil cores (1995-96-97) in CS1 (continuous corn), CS3 (organic corn-soy-wheat/red clover), CS5 (organic corn- oats/alfalfa-alfalfa + manure), and CS6 (pasture) at the Lakeland and Arlignton sites.  In soil cornes from Arlington 1997, there were a greater abundance of insects in CS1 and CS5, although in Lakeland, there was [...] More »

Earthworm Ecology in Agriculture: 1990 and 1991 Data from the Wisconsin Integrated Cropping Systems Trial

Earthworms are considered biological indicators of soil health (Curry and Good, 1992; Daugbjerg et al., 1988; Lavelle et al., 1989). They have significant effects on soil chemical, physical, and biological properties and processes. Conversely, soil properties, climate, and agricultural practices affect earthworms (Figure 7). Soil physical and chemical limiting factors include organic matter content and [...] More »