Tillage and Cover Crop Systems Alter Soil Particle Size Distribution in Raised-Bed-and-Furrow Row-Crop Agroecosystems

Alayna A. Jacobs, Rachel Stout Evans, Jon K. Allison, William L. Kingery, Rebecca L. McCulley, Kristofor R. Brye

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Conservation alternatives that include no-tillage (NT) and cover crops (CCs) reduce soil erosion in row-crop agroecosystems. However, little information is available about how these alternatives affect soil textural properties responsible for soil fertility. This study evaluated the soil particle size distribution and volumetric water content after three years of consistent management in a raised bed system. There were four treatment systems in a dryland maize/soybean rotation on a silt loam soil (Oxyaquic Fraglossudalfs) that included: NT + CCs, conventional tillage (CT) + CCs, CT + winter weeds, and CT + bare soil in winter in northwest Mississippi. The NT + CC system retained 62% more coarse sand in the furrow than the other systems (2.1% compared to 1.3%; p = 0.02). Regardless of the location, the NT + CC system (2.5%) retained 39% more fine sand than the CT + CC system (1.8%; p = 0.01), suggesting that coarse and fine sands were being trapped in furrows combining NT + CC systems, minimizing their off-site transport. In furrows, CCs increased soil volumetric water content by 47% compared to other winter covers. In beds, NT + CCs increased bed water contents by 20% compared to CT + CCs (17.1 to 14.3%; p < 0.01). Implementing conservation alternatives may promote the retention of sand fractions in silty loam soils that are important in supporting soil fertility and crop sustainability.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6
JournalSoil Systems
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2024

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  • Mississippi
  • soil erosion
  • soil texture
  • soil water-holding capacity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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