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The effects of tillage practices and fertilizer applications on soil CO2 in farms within Stark County, Ohio, U.S.A.

Applied Research

Heather Neikirk
Extension Educator
Ohio State University Extension


Farm management practices can have significant, lasting effects on soil dynamics. Tillage practices spanning the spectrum of conventional tillage to no-till systems affect the amount of crop residue on the soil surface. This residue is important for maintaining soil moisture and nutrient availability. Fertilizer applications, whether this be synthetic or organic, also have effects on soil nutrient cycling and overall soil health.  

As part of the Stark Sustainable Soil Initiative (started in 2020), to determine how farm management practices affect soil health, we selected 12 farms in Stark County, Ohio. All participating farms use a variety of tillage techniques, fertilizer types and application rates. All are classified as having the canfield silt loam soil type (55% silt, 31% sand and 14% clay), which is the most common soil type in Stark County. In the Fall of 2023, soil cores were collected from both 0-15 cm and 15-30 cm depths. Soil cores were dried and sieved through 2mm mesh to determine several soil parameters including the carbon mineralization potential (CO2 burst). CO2 burst was used as a proxy for potential microbial activity that can be related to nutrient cycling.  

Although there was no significant effect of tillage on CO2, our long-term hayfields (receiving no tillage), had the highest CO2 values compared to our cultivated fields. Whether farmers used manure as an organic fertilizer did not affect CO2. Overall, there was no significant loss of CO2 under intense tilling or lack of manure, at least within the context of our study design. Funding for this project was provided by the Herbert W. Hoover Foundation.  

Poster has NOT been presented at any previous NACAA AM/PIC

This poster is being submitted only for display at AM/PIC. Poster is not to be judged, but the abstract will be published in the proceedings.

A poster file has not been provided

Authors: Heather Neikirk, Dr. Lauren Baldarelli, Dr. Gunadish Khanal, Dr. Rattan Lal
  1. Neikirk, H. Extension Educator, The Ohio State University Extension Stark County, Ohio, 44646
  2. Baldarelli, D. Postdoctoral Scholar, Stark Sustainable Soils Initiative On-Farm Research Project, The Ohio State University Lal Carbon Management and Sequestration Center, Ohio, 44646
  3. Khanal, D. Postdoctoral Scholar, The Ohio State University Lal Carbon Management and Sequestration Center, Ohio, 43210
  4. Lal, D. Distinguished Professor of Soil Science, School of Environment and Natural Resources, College of Food, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, The Ohio State University Lal Carbon Management and Sequestration Center, Ohio, 43210