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Effects of phosphorus and nitrogen fertilization on soil arylsulfatase activity and sulfur availability of two tropical plantations in southern China

Wang, Senhao, Zhou, Kaijun, Mori, Taiki, Mo, Jiangming, Zhang, Wei
Forest ecology and management 2019
arylsulfatase, enzyme activity, fertilizer application, forest plantations, microbial biomass, microorganisms, nitrogen, nitrogen fertilizers, nutrient management, nutrients, phosphorus, phosphorus fertilizers, soil pH, sulfur, tropical forests, tropical plants, China
Understanding how phosphorus (P) and nitrogen (N) fertilization influence the dynamics of other nutrients [particularly sulfur (S)] is essential for improving the integrated nutrient management of tropical tree plantations. This study investigated how adding P and N fertilizers would affect S dynamics in the soils of two tropical forest plantations. Specifically, we tested whether the addition of P and N alters the availability of exchangeable S and microbial biomass S (MBS) and, hence, arylsulfatase activity (AS) and ratios of AS to C- and/or N-acquiring enzyme activity in the 0–5 cm soil layer were tested. The sites contained both control plots (no fertilizer application) and plots with 6-year continuous fertilizer (P and N) application. Soil exchangeable S clearly decreased, while AS activity marginally increased in P-fertilized plots. The ratios of soil AS activity to C- and/or N-acquiring enzyme activity tended to increase, possibly because the requirements of microbes for S relative to C and N were elevated, with P fertilization exacerbating shortages in S. In comparison, N fertilization did not influence exchangeable S, soil pH, and MBS. This lack of response might be attributed to continuous deposition of high levels of background N at the study sites. Soil AS activity and the ratios of soil AS activity to C- and/or N-acquiring enzyme activity tended to be lowered by N fertilization; thus, AS activity might be more sensitive to N fertilization than to soil pH. In conclusion, P fertilization must be carefully managed in tropical forest plantations to minimize its negative impact on soil S availability.