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Available N and P, Microbial Activity, and Biomass in Saline Sandy and Clayey Soils Amended with Residues of Wheat and Alfalfa

Elgharably, Ahmed, Ito, Osamu
Communications in soil science and plant analysis 2014 v.45 no.22 pp. 2868-2877
alfalfa, calcium, clay, clay soils, electrical conductivity, microbial activity, microbial biomass, microorganisms, nitrogen, nutrient availability, phosphorus, plant residues, saline soils, salinity, salts, sand, sandy soils, sodium, soil amendments, wheat
Salt accumulation has a negative effect on microorganisms, but plant residues may enhance the microbial activity and biomass. An experiment was conducted over 50 days to evaluate the effect of wheat and alfalfa residues on microbial activity and biomass and nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) availability in sandy and clayey soils at different salinity levels. Equivalent amounts of calcium (Ca ⁺²) and sodium (Na ⁺) salts were added to both soils. Values of electrical conductivity (EC ₁:₅), denoted S1, S2, and S3 in each soil, were 0.16, 1.10 and 1.98 dS m ⁻¹ in the sand and 0.19, 0.82 and 1.75 dS m ⁻¹ in the clay. Residues of wheat and alfalfa were added at 2% (w/w). Cumulative respiration and microbial biomass decreased with increasing salinity, but with residue addition they increased with a greater rate in amended sandy soil than in clay soil, with a more pronounced effect for alfalfa than for wheat residue. After 10 days, with wheat residue available N values were 113, 86, and 71 μ g in the clay and 144, 114, and 94 μ g g ⁻¹ soil in the sand in S1, S2, and S3, respectively. Relative to wheat residue, alfalfa residue increased N availability by 9, 13, and 19% and 22, 24, and 24% in the clay and in the sand in S1, S2, and S3, respectively. Compared to the control, in the clay P availability increased by 33, 57, and 100% with wheat residue and by 58, 128, and 175% with alfalfa residue, whereas in the sand it increased by 92, 45, and 40% with wheat residue and by 130, 145, and 280% with alfalfa residue in S1, S2, and S3, respectively. Availability of N and P increased from day 10 to day 50 in both soils, but with different magnitudes. Residue addition can increase microbial activity and nutrient availability in saline soils, particularly in coarser textured soils.