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Applied and Environmental Soil Science
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 617504, 10 pages
Research Article

Effects of 24 Years of Conservation Tillage Systems on Soil Organic Carbon and Soil Productivity

1Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois, S-224 Turner Hall, 1102 S. Goodwin Avenue Urbana, IL 61801, USA
2Dixon Springs Agricultural Center, Department of Crop Sciences, Simpson, IL 62959, USA
3Department of NRES, University of Illinois, N-405 Turner Hall, 1102 S. Goodwin Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801, USA

Received 6 December 2012; Revised 15 January 2013; Accepted 17 January 2013

Academic Editor: Philip J. White

Copyright © 2013 Kenneth R. Olson et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The 24-year study was conducted in southern Illinois (USA) on land similar to that being removed from Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) to evaluate the effects of conservation tillage systems on: (1) amount and rates of soil organic carbon (SOC) storage and retention, (2) the long-term corn and soybean yields, and (3) maintenance and restoration of soil productivity of previously eroded soils. The no-till (NT) plots did store and retain 7.8 Mg C ha−1 more and chisel plow (CP) −1.6 Mg C ha−1 less SOC in the soil than moldboard plow (MP) during the 24 years. However, no SOC sequestration occurred in the sloping and eroding NT, CP, and MP plots since the SOC level of the plot area was greater at the start of the experiment than at the end. The NT plots actually lost a total of −1.2 Mg C ha−1, the CP lost −9.9 Mg C ha−1, and the MP lost −8.2 Mg C ha−1 during the 24-year study. The long-term productivity of NT compared favorably with that of MP and CP systems.