Micronutrients decline under long-term tillage and nitrogen fertilization.Sci Rep 2019; 9(1):12020SR
Tillage and nitrogen (N) fertilization can be expected to alter micronutrient dynamics in the soil and in plants over time. However, quantitative information regarding the effects of tillage and N application rates on micronutrient dynamics is limited. The objectives of this study were (a) to determine the long-term effect of different tillage methods as well as variation in N application rates on the distribution of Mehlich III extractable manganese, copper, zinc, boron, and iron in soils and (b) to assess accumulation of the same nutrients in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) tissues. The system studied was under a dryland winter wheat-fallow (WW-F) rotation. Tillage methods included moldboard (MP), disk (DP) and sweep (SW), and the N application rates were 0, 45, 90, 135, and 180 kg ha-1. The concentration of soil manganese was greater under DP (131 mg kg-1) than under MP (111 mg kg-1). Inorganic N application reduced extractable soil copper while, it increased manganese accumulation in wheat grain over time. Comparison of micronutrients with adjacent long-term (since 1931) undisturbed grass pasture revealed that the WW-F plots had lost at least 43% and 53% of extractable zinc and copper, respectively, after 75 years of N fertilization and tillage. The results indicate that DP and inorganic N application could reduce the rate of micronutrient decline in soil and winter wheat grain over time compared to MP and no N fertilization.