Tillage and residue management effects on soil carbon and CO2 emission in a wheat–corn double-cropping system

  • Wenxu Dong
  • Chunsheng Hu
  • Suying Chen
  • Yuming Zhang
Research Article


The mitigation of CO2 emission into the atmosphere is important and any information on how to implement adjustments to agricultural practices and improve soil organic matter (SOM) stock would be helpful. We studied the effect of tillage and residue management on soil carbon sequestration and CO2 emissions in loam soil cropped in a winter wheat–corn rotation in northern China. There were five treatments: mouldboard ploughing, rotary tillage and no-tillage with chopped residues (MC, RC and NC), additional no-tillage with whole residue (NW) and mouldboard ploughing without residue (CK). After 5 years of each tillage system, MC and RC had higher annual CO2 efflux from soil. The CO2 effluxes were correlated with the ratio of dissolved organic carbon to soil microbial biomass (DOC/MBC) among treatments. This effect may be due to less immobilization of soil carbon by microorganisms under long-time intensive tillage. Although both MBC and DOC showed seasonal variability, when averaged across the sampling period only MBC discriminated between treatments. After 5 years of tillage, all treatments except CK increased SOM (0.16–0.99 Mg C ha−1 year−1) at 0–30 cm depth and NC was the greatest, resulting from historical SOM depletion and large C return from recent residues. Despite the lowest CO2 flux being from the NW treatment, lower input residue from decreased biomass may have lowered C sequestration. To improve soil C sequestration in rotations, the input of residue and the CO2 emission should be balanced by adopting appropriate tillage and residue management.


Conservation tillage Carbon sequestration Double cropping Soil microbial biomass Dissolved organic carbon 



This work was supported in part by the National Science and Technology Support Programme of China (2006BAD15B07) and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Grants KSCXZ-YW-N-037). We thank Prof. Tusheng Ren for instruction in experimentation and perfecting the manuscript. We also thank Luancheng Agro-Ecosystem Experimental Station, CAS for tireless efforts in maintaining the long-term tillage experiments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wenxu Dong
    • 1
    • 2
  • Chunsheng Hu
    • 1
  • Suying Chen
    • 1
  • Yuming Zhang
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Agricultural Resources ResearchInstitute of Genetic and Developmental Biology, Chinese Academy of Science (CAS)ShijiazhuangChina
  2. 2.Graduate School, CASBeijingChina

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