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      Effects of Winter Cover Crops Residue Returning on Soil Enzyme Activities and Soil Microbial Community in Double-Cropping Rice Fields

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          Residue management in cropping systems is useful to improve soil quality. However, the studies on the effects of residue management on the enzyme activities and microbial community of soils in South China are few. Therefore, the effects of incorporating winter cover crop residue with a double-cropping rice ( Oryza sativa L.) system on soil enzyme activities and microbial community in Southern China fields were studied. The experiment has conducted at the experimental station of the Institute of Soil and Fertilizer Research, Hunan Academy of Agricultural Science, China since winter 2004. Four winter cropping systems were used: rice–rice–ryegrass ( Lolium multiflorum L.) (R-R-Ry), rice–rice–Chinese milk vetch ( Astragalus sinicus L.) (R-R-Mv), rice–rice–rape ( Brassica napus L.) (R-R-Ra) and rice–rice with winter fallow (R-R-Fa). The result indicated that the enzyme activities in the R-R-Ry, R-R-Mv and R-R-Ra systems were significantly higher ( P<0.05) than in the R-R-Fa system during the early and late rice season. The β-glucosidase activities reached peak values at the tillering stage after residue application, and alkaline phosphatase activities reached peak values at the booting stage after residue application, respectively, the activities of β-glucosidase and alkaline phosphatase gradually decreased after this. Arylsulfatase activities reached peak values at the maturity stage. Arylamidase activities reached peak values at the maturity stage. The numbers of aerobic bacteria, actinomycete and fungus of residue treatments were significantly higher ( P<0.05) than that the R-R-Ra system. However, the number of anaerobic bacteria under the R-R-Ry and R-R-Mv systems was significantly lower ( P<0.05) than that under the R-R-Fa system during early rice and late rice growth stage. Thus, incorporation of winter cover crops into rotations may increase enzyme activities and microbial community in soil and therefore improve soil quality.

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          Agriculture plays a major role in the global fluxes of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane. From 1991 to 1999, we measured gas fluxes and other sources of global warming potential (GWP) in cropped and nearby unmanaged ecosystems. Net GWP (grams of carbon dioxide equivalents per square meter per year) ranged from 110 in our conventional tillage systems to -211 in early successional communities. None of the annual cropping systems provided net mitigation, although soil carbon accumulation in no-till systems came closest to mitigating all other sources of GWP. In all but one ecosystem, nitrous oxide production was the single greatest source of GWP. In the late successional system, GWP was neutral because of significant methane oxidation. These results suggest additional opportunities for lessening the GWP of agronomic systems.
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            Rye residues contribute weed suppression in no-tillage cropping systems.

            The use of allelopathic cover crops in reduced tillage cropping systems may provide an ecologically sound and environmentally safe management strategy for weed control. Growers often plant winter rye (Secale cereale L.) for increased soil organic matter and soil protection. Spring-planted living rye reduced weed biomass by 93% over plots without rye. Residues of fall-planted/spring-killed rye reduced total weed biomass over bare-ground controls. Rye residues also reduced total weed biomass by 63% when poplar excelsior was used as a control for the mulch effect, suggesting that allelopathy, in addition to the physical effects of the mulch, did contribute to weed control in these systems. In greenhouse studies, rye root leachates reduced tomato dry weight by 25-30%, which is additional evidence that rye is allelopathic to other plant species.
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              A two-year field study with transgenic Bacillus thuringiensis maize: effects on soil microorganisms.

              We evaluated the changes of some soil microbiological characteristics due to the use of transgenic maize expressing Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxin. A two-year field experiment was conducted (2003 and 2004). Two lines of transgenic Bt maize that express the Cry1Ab protein (event 176 and MON 810) and their near-isogenic non-Bt lines were used. Rhizosphere and non-rhizosphere soils were collected and measurements were performed during the maize cultural cycle and immediately at pre-harvest. Key soil microbiological parameters measured included the numbers of culturable aerobic bacteria, including actinomycetes, and fungi, the activity of dehydrogenase and nitrogenase enzymes and ATP content. There were clear seasonal effects in the microbial parameters as evidenced by the consistent changes in sampling dates across the two years. Differences in the measured variables were also observed between rhizosphere and non-rhizosphere soils. However, under our field conditions, the presence of Bt maize did not cause, in a general way, changes in the microbial populations of the soil or in the activity of the microbial community.

                Author and article information

                [1 ]Hunan Soil and Fertilizer Institute, Changsha, PR China
                [2 ]Guizhou Academy of Tobacco Science, Guiyang, PR China
                Wageningen University, Netherlands
                Author notes

                Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

                Conceived and designed the experiments: XXP YGL. Performed the experiments: THM. Analyzed the data: THM TWG. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: LYC WK. Wrote the paper: THM.

                Role: Editor
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
                23 June 2014
                : 9
                : 6

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

                Pages: 8
                This study was supported by the Hunan Provincial Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 12JJ4022), and the Public Research Funds Projects of Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture of the P.R. China (No. 201103001). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
                Research Article
                Biology and Life Sciences
                Agronomic Ecology
                Cereal Crops
                Crop Management
                Agricultural Production
                Applied Microbiology
                Microbial Ecology
                Plant Microbiology
                Plant Science
                Ecology and Environmental Sciences
                Soil Science
                Soil Ecology



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