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No-till and cover crops shift soil microbial abundance and diversity in Laos tropical grasslands

Lienhard P., Tivet F., Chabanne A., Dequiedt S., Lelièvre M., Sayphoummie S., Leudphanane B., Prévost-Bouré N.C., Séguy L., Maron P.A., Ranjard L.. 2013. Agronomy for Sustainable Development, 33 (2) : p. 375-384.

DOI: 10.1007/s13593-012-0099-4

Agricultural practices affect the physical and chemical characteristics of the soil, which in turn may influence soil microorganisms with consequences on soil biological functioning. However, there is little knowledge on the interactions between agriculturalmanagement, soil physicochemical properties, and soil microbial communities, notably in tropical ecosystems with few studies conducted in strongly weathered and acid soils. Here, we investigated the early effect of tillage and crop residues management on top soil physical, chemical, and microbial properties in an acid savannah grassland of northeastern Laos. We initiated a 3-year rotation of rice/corn/ soybean under three no-till systems (NTs) distinguished by the cover crops associated prior to and with the main crops, and one conventional tillage-based system (CT). The effect of agricultural management was evaluated 2 years after land reclamation in reference to the surrounding natural pasture (PAS). Our results demonstrate that NTs improve soil physicochemical characteristics (aggregate stability, organic carbon, and cation exchange capacity) as well as microbial abundance (total biomass, bacterial and fungal densities). A significant discrimination of the genetic structure of soil bacterial community was also observed between NTs, CT, and PAS. Interestingly, bacterial abundance and diversity were differently influenced by soil environment changes: microbial density was affected by the quantity and diversity of crop residues, soil organic carbon, and exchangeable base contents, whereas soil bacterial genetic structure was mainly determined by exchangeable aluminum content, pH, cation exchange capacity, and C/N ratio. Altogether, our study represents one of the most complete environmental evaluations of agricultural practices in tropical agrosystems and leads to recommend no-till systems with high residue restitutions to improve the physical, chemical, and microbial properties of tropical acid soils and thus contribute to the sustainability of agriculture in these ecosystems.

Mots-clés : non-travail du sol; travail du sol; culture sous couvert végétal; micro-organisme du sol; sol tropical; agroécosystème; fertilité du sol; propriété physicochimique du sol; gestion des déchets; résidu de récolte; oryza sativa; zea mays; glycine max; république démocratique populaire lao; agriculture de conservation

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