Soil gas diffusivity and pore continuity dynamics under different tillage and crop sequences in an irrigated Mediterranean area

Rasendra Talukder, Daniel Plaza-Bonilla, Carlos Cantero-Martínez, Ole Wendroth, Jorge Lampurlanés Castel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Gas diffusion can be used to quantify soil quality and structural development that is strongly affected by soil use and management practices. There is a lack of information about the quantitative effect of tillage combined with crop sequences on soil structure. This study aimed to quantify the effects of tillage and crop sequences on soil bulk density, gas diffusivity, air-filled porosity, and the resulting pore continuity and their dynamic during the cropping cycle. A total of 288 undisturbed soil samples were collected over two growing periods (2018–19 and 2019–20) on a long-term field experiment (~25 years old) in Agramunt, NE Spain. Three factors were investigated to observe their influence on the above-mentioned soil's physical characteristics: two tillage systems (intensive tillage, IT and no-tillage, NT), two crop sequences (short fallow-maize, FM; legume-maize, LM) and two positions (within the row of crops, W-row; between rows of crops, B-row). Soil gas diffusivity was measured at five different soil water matric potentials (SWMP) (−10, −50, −100, −333 and −1000 cm H2O). LM crop sequence showed greater air-filled porosity, macroporosity and gas diffusivity, as well as enhanced pore continuity, than FM, especially at W-row. No significant differences were observed for measured gas diffusivity between NT and IT systems though NT had lower air-filled porosity and macroporosity (> 30 µm) compared to IT. Soil under NT showed greater pore continuity, particularly among macropores and less blocked pores than IT at higher SWMP (−10 cm H2O) but no difference was observed at lower SWMP (−1000 cm H2O) regardless of crop sequence and position. Air-filled porosity and pore continuity changes between maize planting and harvesting were greater under IT than NT. During the legume growing seasons, IT showed comparable pore continuity values to NT. In LM crop sequence soil gas transport was favorably affected alleviating the negative effect of intensive tillage on soil structural degradation. Long-term NT also improved soil structure as indicated by higher continuity of macropores, despite a decrease in air-filled porosity and macroporosity, but did not significantly lower gas diffusivity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105409
JournalSoil and Tillage Research
StatePublished - Jul 2022

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  • Air-filled porosity
  • Crop sequence
  • Gas diffusivity
  • Long term no-tillage
  • Pore continuity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Soil Science
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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