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This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 91 No. 2, p. 276-279
     
    Received: Apr 8, 1998
    Published: Mar, 1999


    * Corresponding author(s): mdzori2@pop.uky.edu
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doi:10.2134/agronj1999.00021962009100020016x

Soil Organic Matter and Wheat Productivity in the Semiarid Argentine Pampas

  1. Martín Díaz-Zorita ,
  2. Daniel E. Buschiazzo and
  3. Norman Peinemann
  1. U niv. of Kentucky, Dep. of Agronomy, N-122 Agric. Sci. Ctr. North, Lexington, KY 40546-0091
    I NTA, EEA Anguil, and Fac. de Agronomía, Univ. Nacional de La Pampa, 6300 Santa Rosa, LP, Argentina
    D ep. de Agronomía, Univ. Nacional del Sur, 8000 Bahía Blanca, BA, Argentina

Abstract

Abstract

Crop productivity under dryland conditions is largely limited by soil water availability. Soil organic matter (SOM) contents have been found to be a reliable index of crop productivity in semiarid regions because it positively affects soil water-holding capacity. Our objectives were to explain differences in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) yields in response to SOM levels and related properties and to quantify the contribution of a unit increment of SOM content to soil productivity during 1991,1992, and 1994 on a total of 134 production fields in the semiarid Argentine Pampas. Wheat yields were related to both soil water retention and total organic C (TOC) contents in the top layers (0–20 cm) in years with low moisture availability (1992 [r = 0.51, P < 0.01] and 1994 [r = 0.59, P < 0.01]), and were related to both total N and available P contents in a year without water deficit stress (1991 [r = 0.58, P < 0.01]). Wheat yields over all years were linearly related to TOC (r = 0.68, P < 0.01) when these contents were <17.5 g kg. Dependence of wheat yields on soil water retention and on TOC contents under water deficit was related to the positive effect of these soil components on plant-available water. In the absence of water deficit (1991), nutrient availability was the limiting factor. Losses of 1 Mg SOM ha were associated with a decrease in wheat yield of approximately 40 kg ha. These results demonstrate the importance of using cultural practices that minimize losses of soil organic C in the semiarid Argentine Pampas.

Contribution of INTA (EEA Gral. Villegas and EEA Anguil), Univ. Nac. de La Pampa, and Univ. Nac. del Sur.

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