2020 journal article

Comparison of soil health metrics for a Cecil soil in the North Carolina Piedmont

Soil Science Society of America Journal, 84(3), 978–993.

By: C. Caudle n, D. Osmond n, J. Heitman n, M. Ricker, G. Miller n & S. Wills*

Source: ORCID
Added: April 14, 2020

Soil health metric values may vary across soil types and even within the same soil series under different management systems. The goal of this study was to determine the amount of variation present in Cecil sandy loam soils (fine, kaolinitic, thermic Typic Kanhapludults) under row crop and hay management systems via field (single-ring infiltration, Cornell Sprinkle Infiltrometer, and a farmer score card) and laboratory soil health metrics [soil respiration, phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) analysis, permanganate-oxidizable C (POXC), β-glucosidase, β-glucosaminidase, alkaline and acid phosphatase, arylsulfatase, phosphodiesterase, soil organic C (SOC), total N (TN), autoclave citrate-extractable (ACE) protein content, aggregate stability, mean weight diameter, and bulk density]. Soil samples were collected in three hay and three crop fields. ANOVA indicated significant variations between systems, with depth and interactions among system, field, and/or slope position, depending on the metric (p < 0.05). Infiltration measurements were highly variable and the measurement methods produced inconsistent values. The majority of laboratory metrics significantly decreased with depth. Soil respiration was significantly different between systems (crop > hay), whereas arylsulfatase, acid phosphatase, β-glucosidase, β-glucosaminidase, ACE, POXC, and aggregate stability had significant system × depth interactions (0–5 cm hay > crop) and POXC had a significant system × pedon interaction. Enzyme assays, PLFA measurements, POXC, TN, SOC, and ACE protein content were also significantly correlated with each other. Unexpected trends and variable results suggest that more data should be collected before effective soil health metrics and baseline values can be established.