The effects of different tillage systems on the properties and microbial diversity of an agricultural soil was investigated. In doing so, soil physical, chemical and biological properties were analysed in 2013-2015, on a long-term field experiment on a loamy sand at the IUNG-PIB Experimental Station in Grabów, Poland. Winter wheat was grown under two tillage treatments: conventional tillage using a mouldboard plough and traditional soil tillage equipment, and reduced tillage based on soil crushing-loosening equipment and a rigid-tine cultivator. Chopped wheat straw was used as a mulch on both treatments. Reduced tillage resulted in increased water content throughout the whole soil profile, in comparison with conventional tillage. Under reduced tillage, the content of readily dispersible clay was also reduced, and, therefore, soil stability was increased in the toplayers, compared with conventional tillage. In addition, the beneficial effects of reduced tillage were reflected in higher soil microbial activity as measured with dehydrogenases and hydrolysis of fluorescein diacetate, compared with conventional tillage. Moreover, the polimerase chain reaction – denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis analysis showed that soil under reduced till-age had greater diversity of microbial communities, compared with conventionally-tilled soil. Finally, reduced tillage increased organic matter content, stability in water and microbial diversity in the top layer of the soil.
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