Organic matter distribution in aggregate sizes of a mollisol under contrasting management
Total and particulate organic matter content in different aggregate sizes can be used as an indicator of land use effect. We hypothesized that tillage reduction increases total (SOC) and particulate soil organic C (POC) contents and the stability of larger aggregates of high-SOC-content Mollisols. Three management systems (continuous pasture (Pp), and continuous cropping under conventional tillage (CT) and no-tillage (NT)) were evaluated. Oven dried soil samples (0-5 and 5-20 cm), were wet sieved through 2000, 250 and 50 |im sieves after immersion (IW) and capillary (CW) wetting. Particulate organic matter (>50 |im) was separated in both the whole soil and in each aggregate fraction, SOC and mineral associated organic C contents were determined, and POC was calculated by subtraction. Reduced soil disturbance (Pp and NT) yielded more SOC and POC in the whole soil and macroaggregates with higher stability (Pp>NT>CT). Under Pp, macroaggregates showed the highest SOC and POC. Under NT, macroaggregates showed higher SOC and POC and aggregate stability than CT though lower than Pp. Less tillage-induced disruption (Pp and NT) led to higher SOC and POC contents in more stable macroaggregates but continuous no-tillage appeared not to be enough to reverse the effects of long lasting conventional management practices on these Mollisols.