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Integrating soil conservation practices and glyphosate-resistant crops: Impacts on soil

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Abstract or Summary

Background: Conservation practices often associated with glyphosate-resistant crops, e.g. limited tillage and crop cover, improve soil conditions, but only limited research has evaluated their effects on soil in combination with glyphosate-resistant crops. It is assumed that conservation practices have similar benefits to soil whether or not glyphosate-resistant crops are used. This paper reviews the impact on soil of conservation practices and glyphosate-resistant crops, and presents data from a Mississippi field trial comparing glyphosate-resistant and non-glyphosate-resistant maize (Zea mays L.) and cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) under limited tillage
RESULTS: Results from the reduced-tillage study indicate differences in soil biological and chemical properties owing to glyphosate-resistant crops. Under continuous glyphosate-resistant maize, soils maintained greater soil organic carbon and nitrogen as compared with continuous non-glyphosate-resistant maize, but no differences were measured in continuous cotton or in cotton rotated with maize. Soil microbial community structure based
on total fatty acid methyl ester analysis indicated a significant effect of glyphosate-resistant crop following 5 years of continuous glyphosate-resistant crop as compared with the non-glyphosate-resistant crop system. Results from
this study, as well as the literature review, indicate differences attributable to the interaction of conservation practices and glyphosate-resistant crop, but many are transient and benign for the soil ecosystem.
CONCLUSIONS: Glyphosate use may result in minor effects on soil biological/chemical properties. However, enhanced organic carbon and plant residues in surface soils under conservation practices may buffer potential effects of glyphosate. Long-term field research established under various cropping systems and ecological regions is needed for critical assessment of glyphosate-resistant crop and conservation practice interactions.


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