ISSN 1392-3196 / e-ISSN 2335-8947
Zemdirbyste-Agriculture, vol. 110, No. 4 (2023), p. 301–310
DOI 10.13080/z-a.2023.110.034

Quantifying maize phenology using beneficial microorganisms and residue management under deep tillage system

Haris KHAN, Ahmad KHAN, Sajid KHAN, Anjum ANJUM, Habib AKBAR, Dost MUHAMMAD


Residues differing in quality and incorporation depths are presumed to contribute differently to the improvement of soil properties through decomposition. Understanding the response of residue decomposition at different depths using tillage implements and effective microorganisms can help to develop strategies for improving soil properties. Therefore, three nitrogen (N) supplemented crop residues: wheat (Rw), chickpea (Rc), Rw + Rc, and no residue (R0) as a control, under three different tillage implements: cultivator (CT), mouldboard plough (MBP), and chisel plough (CP), in combination with beneficial microorganisms (BM) applied (BMA) or not applied (BM0, control) were investigated during summer 2018 and 2019. The experiment was conducted in a randomised complete block design (RCBD) with a split plot arrangement with four replications. Tillage implements were placed in the main plots, and crop residues and beneficial microorganisms in subplots. The results of the experiment showed that the use of a MBP increased the availability of mineral nitrogen (Nmin) by 23% but decreased the content of soil organic carbon (SOC) (14%) and total nitrogen (Ntot) (7%) compared to the CT. The Nmin availability was more than doubled with Rc either alone (116%) or in combination with Rw (106%) compared to Ro. Decomposition of crop residues was faster with the BMA, especially with chickpea residues compared to wheat residues or its combination. Structural equation modelling indicated that soil fertility and maize phenology were directly affected by most of soil properties with Nmin having the highest estimated effect (119.5), followed by electrical conductivity (EC) (0.23), and indirectly by soil pH (0.06). It was concluded that the crop residues improved soil fertility and delayed maize phenology when incorporated through mouldboard or chisel ploughing into deeper soil layers with the BMA. Therefore, the application of chickpea residues is recommended for a faster soil mineralisation and N availability, while wheat residues are recommended in combination with deep tillage for long-term carbon stock development.

Keywords: structural equation model, wheat/chickpea residue decomposition, soil fertility, tillage implements, mouldboard plough, chisel plough, cultivator, residues incorporation depth.

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