Main content area

Effects of combined organic manure and mineral fertilization on soil aggregation and aggregate-associated organic carbon in two agricultural soils

Mi, Wenhai, Wu, Yufeng, Zhao, Haitao, Wu, Lianghuan, Liu, Yanling
Journal of plant nutrition 2018 v.41 no.17 pp. 2256-2265
NPK fertilizers, aggregate stability, agricultural soils, basins, carbon sequestration, cattle manure, cropping systems, fertilizer application, field experimentation, geometry, nitrogen fertilizers, soil aggregation, soil organic carbon, soil quality, straw, subtropics, water stable soil aggregates, China, Yangtze River
The effect of organic manure and inorganic fertilizer on soil aggregate size distribution and stability, and associated carbon (C) within aggregates varies greatly in previous studies because of the differences in soil conditions, cropping systems, and management practices. This study was conducted as two field fertilization experiments, with different cropping systems, under a subtropical climate in China. The two field experiment sites were located in Jinhua (established in April 2011) in the Jinqu basin in Zhejiang province and Jintan (established in October 2010) in the low-middle Yangtze River plain in Jiangsu province. Both experiments consisted of four treatments, including unfertilized (CK), mineral fertilizer nitrogen (N)–phosphorus (P)–potassium (K) (NPK), NPK plus straw (NPK + SR), and NPK plus cattle manure (NPK + FYM) or half NPK plus cattle manure (1/2NPK + FYM). Water stable aggregate size classes (>5, 2–5, 1–2, 0.5–1, 0.25–0.5, and <0.25 mm) and associated soil organic C (SOC) at 0–15 cm depth were measured. The mean weight diameter (MWD), geometric mean diameter (GMD), and water stable aggregates (WSA) > 0.25 mm were also determined. The results showed that aggregate-size distribution varied with soil types. Combined application of NPK and organic matter (straw residue or cattle manure), unlike the CK and NPK treatments, significantly increased the WSA >0.25 mm, MWD, and GMD, while obviously reducing the proportion of <0.25 mm aggregates. However, no differences in WSA >0.25 mm, MWD, GMD, and associated C were observed between CK and NPK at both sites. The addition of FYM to the NPK treatment yielded the highest SOC contents in bulk soil, and showed significantly higher associations of C within all size aggregates at both sites. In contrast, NPK + SR significantly increased SOC within aggregate classes (2–5 mm, 0.5–1 mm, 0.25–0.5 mm, and <0.25 mm) at Jinhua and (>5 mm and 1–2 mm) at Jintan compared to the CK and NPK treatments. Overall, the combined application of FYM and mineral NPK was the best sustainable management practice for the improvement of aggregate stability and SOC sequestration.