ABSTRACT Long-term experiments can be used to assess management induced changes in soil properties and sustainability of the management system in terms of the productivity. Such data are scanty, especially in the semi-arid tropics (SAT) region. A long-term experiment established in 1976 at ICRISAT in India on Vertisols with two management treatments; improved management (IM), comprising semi-permanent broadbed and furrow (BBF) landform with minimum tillage and improved cropping practices; and traditional management (TM) system comprising keeping the land fallow during the rainy season and sowing on flat landform during post-rainy season with traditional cropping practices, was sampled after 24 and 34 years for soil physical and hydrological properties. Results showed that both in short-and long-term the management systems had profound effect on crop yields. Also in the long-term IM and TM management systems had significant effect on several soil physical and hydrological properties. Throughout the soil profile IM systems had significantly lower bulk density, significantly higher porosity, substantially lower penetration resistance both at 5 cm (1 and 8 MPa) and 15 cm depths (8 and 15 MPa), significantly higher infiltration and sorptivity and significantly larger mean weight diameter of 4.3 mm compared to 2.8 mm for soils under TM. However, management systems had no significant effect on moisture holding capacities both at 0.033 and 1.5 MPa. Significant differences between the improved and traditional systems were observed in the size and pattern of soil surface cracks. Over the long-term, the improved management systems has very favorable effects on soil physical and hydrological properties and on the soil surface cracking and its patterns, thereby contributing to higher productivity.
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