Soil Nitrogen Storage and Availability to Crops are Increased by Conservation Agriculture Practices

The changes in nitrogen (N) forms and N availability for crops in rice-based systems under conservation agriculture practices have not been determined. Field experiments were conducted at Alipur and Digram in the Eastern Gangetic Plains to examine N cycling under conventional tillage(CT), strip planting(SP)/non-puddled rice(NP) and bed planting(BP) with increased (HR) or low residue retention (LR). The SP/NP, together with HR, altered the N cycling by reducing the N level available to plants in the early growing season but increasing total N and N uptake by enhancing the synchrony between crop demand and N supply.

The benefits of conservation agriculture(CA) practices in upland cropping for soil properties are destroyed during puddled transplanting of rice. Non–puddled transplanting of rice (NP), a novel rice establishment practice designed for CA cropping systems (Bell et al., 2019), along with zero or strip tillage are CA-compatible practice. There is limited understanding of N cycling in soils under the CA practices in intensive cropping systems. The study was conducted to determine the effect of crop establishment and increased residue retention on N dynamics in rice–upland triple–crop rotations.