Paper No. 210-54
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM
HOW DOES A FOREST ECOSYSTEM SOIL COMPARE TO A NO-TILL SOIL?
This research investigated and compared the chemical composition of a forested soil to that of a no-till cornfield soil on the Singleton-Matthews Farm located in Westminster, Maryland. The forested plot is an established man-made forest that has been undisturbed and unaltered for many years. The forested area lies in a valley between areas of no-till farmland. The cornfield plot is located on higher ground and has been planted in corn continuously for several years, without crop rotation. The cornfield is managed as no-till and the addition of external inputs is required to keep the soil viable. Soils were collected within each plot. The soils collected within each plot were mixed for uniformity. A variety of tests and techniques were used to study the soil types. A field soil test kit was used to test pH, NO3-
, P, K, Al, Mn, Fe, Cu, S, Ca, Mg, and Cl-
As expected, there were very few similarities between the soils from the two locations. The largest differences were discovered in the concentrations of N, P, and K. The cornfield had higher levels of N, P, and K, which is most likely due to the fertilizers that are utilized in corn production. While no-till farming is often touted as environmentally friendly, due to the decreased disturbance of the soil, it does increase the need for fertilizers, especially on the Singleton-Matthews Farm where crop rotation is not utilized. In the future it would be beneficial to the soil for the incorporation of crop rotation or introducing minimal tillage on the farm.