Journal of
Soil Science and Environmental Management

  • Abbreviation: J. Soil Sci. Environ. Manage.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-2391
  • DOI: 10.5897/JSSEM
  • Start Year: 2010
  • Published Articles: 311

Full Length Research Paper

Effect of tillage practices on the soil carbon dioxide flux during fall and spring seasons in a Mediterranean Vertisol

R. Moussadek1,2*, R. Mrabet1, R. Dahan1, A. Douaik1, A. Verdoodt2,  E. Van Ranst2 and M. Corbeels3
1Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, BP 415, Avenue la Victoire, 10000, Rabat, Morocco. 2Department of Geology and Soil Science (WE13), Laboratory of Soil Science, Ghent University, Krijgslaan 281/S8, B-9000 Gent, Belgium. 3Systèmes de Culture Annuels, Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement (CIRAD), France.
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 05 October 2011
  •  Published: 29 November 2011


In this study, we assessed the effect of conventional tillage (CT), reduced (RT) and no tillage (NT) practices on the soil CO2 flux of a Mediterranean Vertisol in semi-arid Morocco. The measurements focused on the short term (0 to 96 h) soil CO2 fluxes measured directly after tillage during the fall and spring period. Soil temperature, moisture and soil strength were measured congruently to study their effect on the soil CO2 flux magnitude. Immediately after fall tillage, the CT showed the highest CO2 flux (4.9 g m-2 h-1); RT exhibited an intermediate value (2.1 g m-2 h-1) whereas the lowest flux (0.7 g m-2 h-1) was reported under NT. After spring tillage, similar but smaller impacts of the tillage practices on soil CO2 flux were reported with fluxes ranging from 1.8 g CO2 m-2 h-1 (CT) to less than 0.1 g COm-2 h-1 (NT). Soil strength was significantly correlated with soil CO2 emission; whereas surface soil temperature and moisture were low correlated to the soil CO2 flux. The intensity of rainfall events before fall and spring tillage practices could explain the seasonal CO2 flux trends. The findings promote conservation tillage and more specifically no tillage practices to reduce CO2 losses within these Mediterranean agro-ecosystems.


Key words: Tillage, COflux, seasonal variability, Vertisol, semi-arid Morocco.