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Effects of Land Use on Selected Properties and Heavy Metal Concentration for Soil in the US Great Plains

Elrashidi, Moustafa, Wysocki, Douglas, Schoeneberger, Philip
Communications in soil science and plant analysis 2016 v.47 no.22 pp. 2465-2478
Conservation Reserve Program, aluminum, analysis of variance, arsenic, boron, bulk density, cadmium, carbon, cation exchange capacity, chromium, cobalt, conventional tillage, copper, electrical conductivity, grasses, heavy metals, iron, land use, lead, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, pH, plant micronutrients, silicon, soil minerals, soil quality, toxicity, water quality, zinc, Great Plains region, United States
There is increasing interest in the current conditions of dynamic soil properties and element concentration in the US Great Plains as well as the nature and magnitude of change due to land use and management practices. The study was conducted on Pawnee soil, a major U.S. benchmark soil in the Great Plains. The objectives were to investigate the effects of four common land uses [NoTill (NT), Conventional Till (CT), Grass (G), and Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)] on: i) selected soil properties [total organic carbon (TOC), bulk density (BD), pH, cation exchange capacity (CEC), and electric conductivity (EC)] and ii) water-soluble concentration of 14 heavy metals and micronutrients. The analysis of variance (ANOVA test) indicated that the land use had significant effects on the TOC, CEC, and EC, whereas no relation was detected for BD and pH. Irrespective of land use, the mean element concentration in soil could be arranged in the order: Si (Silicon) > Al (Aluminum) > Fe (Iron) > Mn (Manganese) > B (Boron) > Zn (Zinc) > Cr (Chromium) > Ni (Nickel) > Cu (Copper) > As (Arsenic) > Pb (Lead) > Co (Cobalt) > Mo (Molybdenum) > Cd (Cadmium). Silicon, Al, and Fe which are usually form the major components of soil minerals were present in much higher levels (91 to 308 mg/kg) than other elements in soil. Essential plant micronutrients such as B, Cu, Mn, Mo, and Zn, generally presented moderate levels in soil (7 to 698 µg/kg), whereas toxic heavy metals such as As, Cd, Co, Ni, and Pb were present in the lowest values (0.7–96.2 µg/kg). The ANOVA test indicated land use had significant effects on As, B, Cd, Co, Cu, Ni, and Si concentration in soil while effects were insignificant for other elements. The data proved the important effects of land use on dynamic soil properties as well as nutrient and heavy metal for a major benchmark soil. Thus, more studies on other major soils are warranted. The information is needed to modify and adapt management practices to improve and sustain soil health and water quality in the US Great Plains.