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Trends in grain yields and soil organic C in a long-term fertilization experiment in the China Loess Plateau
- Fan, Tinglu, Xu, Minggang, Song, Shangyou, Zhou, Guangye, Ding, Linping
- Zeitschrift für Pflanzenernährung und Bodenkunde 2008 v.171 no.3 pp. 448-457
- Triticum aestivum, Zea mays, arid lands, carbon sequestration, corn, grain yield, loess, nutrients, phosphorus fertilizers, plateaus, roots, single nucleotide polymorphism, soil, soil organic carbon, straw, weather, wheat, China
- Changes in grain yields and soil organic carbon (SOC) from a 26 y dryland fertilization trial in Pingliang, Gansu, China, were recorded. Cumulative C inputs from straw and root and manure for fertilizer treatments were estimated. Mean wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) yields for the 18 y ranged from 1.72 t ha⁻¹ for the unfertilized plots (CK) to 4.65 t ha⁻¹ for the plots that received manure (M) annually with inorganic N and P fertilizers (MNP). Corn (Zea mays L.) yields for the 6 y averaged 2.43 and 5.35 t ha⁻¹ in the same treatments. Yields declined with year except in the CK for wheat. Wheat yields for N only declined with time by 117.8 kg ha⁻¹ y⁻¹ that was the highest decrease among all treatments, and that for NP declined by 84.7 kg ha⁻¹ y⁻¹, similar to the declines of 77.4 kg ha⁻¹ y⁻¹ for the treatment receiving straw and N annually and P every second year (SNP). Likewise, the corn yields declined highly for all treatments, and the declined amounts ranged from 108 to 258 kg ha⁻¹ y⁻¹ which was much higher than in wheat. These declined yields were mostly linked to both gradual dry weather and nutrients depletion of the soil. The N only resulted in both P and K deficiency in the soil, and soil N and K negative balances in the NP and MNP were obvious. Soil organic carbon (SOC) in the 0-20 cm soil layer increased with time except in the CK and N treatments, in which SOC remained almost stable. In the MNP and M treatments, 24.7% and 24.0% of the amount of cumulative C input from organic sources remained in the soil as SOC, but 13.7% of the C input from straw and root in the SNP, suggesting manure is more effective in building soil C than straw. Across the 26 y cropping and fertilization, annual soil-C sequestration rates ranged from 0.014 t C ha⁻¹ y⁻¹ for the CK to 0.372 t C ha⁻¹ y⁻¹ for the MNP. We found a strong linear relationship (R² = 0.74, p = 0.025) between SOC sequestration and cumulative C input, with C conversion-to-SOC rate of 16.9%, suggesting these dryland soils have not reached an upper limit of C sequestration.