Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems

, Volume 82, Issue 3, pp 273–281 | Cite as

Changes in soil nutrient content and enzymatic activity under conventional and zero-tillage practices in an Indian sandy clay loam soil

  • B. L. Mina
  • Supradip Saha
  • Narendra Kumar
  • A. K. Srivastva
  • H. S. Gupta
Research Article


For 3 years we studied the impact of different tillage practices on biological activity, major nutrient transformation potential in a sandy clay loam soil and crop yield in a Himalayan subtemperate region. Field agroecosystems with a rotation of two grain crops per year (lentil-finger millet) received four different tillage practices: zero–zero (ZZ), conventional–conventional (CC), zero–conventional (ZC), and conventional–zero (ZC) tillage. Most of the chemical parameters were influenced by the type of tillage practice. ZZ increased the soil organic carbon (SOC) content in the upper soil layer from 6.8 to 7.5 mg g−1 soil. Similarly available N was increased by 6.1% in ZZ over CC. Under zero tillage soil generally had higher P and K content than under other tillage practices. Soil carbohydrate content was also increased from 3.1 to 4.9 mg g−1 and dehydrogenase activity was also increased significantly under continuous zero-tillage practice. Alkaline phosphatase, protease, and cellulase were most sensitive to changes due to tillage management. Alkaline phosphatase and protease activity was greater (by 9.3–48.1%) in the zero-tillage system over conventional practice. In contrast, cellulase activity was more (by 31.3–74.6%) in conventional practice than other management practices. We suggest that, by understanding the effects of tillage on soil biological properties, soil quality and agricultural sustainability of subtemperate hill agro-ecosystems may be improved.


Biological activity Soil enzymes Nutrient availability Zero tillage Conventional tillage Soil carbohydrate Hill agro-ecosystem 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. L. Mina
    • 1
  • Supradip Saha
    • 1
  • Narendra Kumar
    • 1
  • A. K. Srivastva
    • 1
  • H. S. Gupta
    • 1
  1. 1.Vivekananda Institute of Hill AgricultureAlmoraIndia

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