Main content area

Manure over crop residues increases soil organic matter but decreases microbial necromass relative contribution in upland Ultisols: Results of a 27-year field experiment

Ye, Guiping, Lin, Yongxin, Kuzyakov, Yakov, Liu, Deyan, Luo, Jiafa, Lindsey, Stuart, Wang, Weijin, Fan, Jianbo, Ding, Weixin
Soil biology & biochemistry 2019 v.134 pp. 15-24
NPK fertilizers, Ultisols, aerobes, carbon, diffusivity, fertilizer application, field experimentation, fungi, highlands, mineral fertilizers, necromass, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, organic fertilizers, oxygen, peanuts, pig manure, radishes, rice straw, soil organic matter, stable isotopes
Organic fertilizers increase soil organic matter (SOM) stocks, but the underlying processes depend on the fertilizer type and remain largely unknown. To evaluate the predominant C stabilization mechanisms, upland Ultisols subjected to 27 years of mineral and organic fertilization were analyzed for SOM content, aggregate size classes, and amino sugar composition. The long-term field experiment had seven treatments: no fertilization (Control), mineral NPK fertilizers (NPK), NPK plus lime (NPK + Lime), NPK plus peanut straw (NPK + PeanutStraw), NPK plus rice straw (NPK + RiceStraw), NPK plus radish residue (NPK + RadishResidue), and NPK plus pig manure (NPK + PigManure). The 27-year application of mineral fertilizers (NPK and NPK + Lime), NPK + crop residues, and NPK + PigManure increased SOM content by 11.0–13.2%, 16.3–25.3%, and 44.3%, respectively, compared with the Control. The aliphaticity and recalcitrance indices based on 13C nuclear magnetic resonance spectra of organic fertilizers were higher for pig manure than for crop residues. Both indices were closely correlated with SOM content after 27 years, so higher proportions of recalcitrant C in manure facilitated SOM accumulation. NPK + PigManure increased the mass proportion of large macroaggregates 2.9-fold compared with the Control, and reduced the effective diffusion coefficient of oxygen in the soil. Consequently, NPK + PigManure limited the activity and abundance of aerobes and the accessibility of SOM to microorganisms, in turn facilitating SOM accumulation. The application of mineral fertilizers, NPK + crop residues, and NPK + PigManure increased microbial necromass to 2.85–3.03, 3.21–3.45, and 3.62 g C kg−1, respectively, from 2.63 g C kg−1 in the Control. Compared with crop residues, pig manure did not affect bacterial necromass but increased fungal necromass from 2.19 to 2.39 g C kg−1 to 2.58 g C kg−1, which might associate with increased SOM stability. However, the relative contribution of microbial necromass to SOM was lower under NPK + PigManure than under NPK + crop residues, since more added C was protected in the NPK + PigManure soil. Our results suggest that manure may contribute to SOM accumulation and stabilization in three ways: directly through the input of recalcitrant organic C, indirectly through the stabilization of aggregates and physical protection of C, and to a lesser extent through increasing fungal necromass.