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Soil, land care and environmental research

Soil Research

Soil Research

Soil Research is an international journal for publishing research about fundamental and applied aspects of soil science. Read more about the journalMore

Editors-in-Chief: Balwant Singh and Mark Tibbett

Current Issue

Soil Research

Volume 55 Number 2 2017

Sustainable improvements in productivity and profitability of structurally weak or dispersive texture contrast soils have proved elusive. Blade loosening to a depth of approximately 300 mm with a machine that has little draft and near-zero soil disturbance increased crop production and maintained an unsaturated and stable root zone. The blade loosener could be mounted on seeders operating in a controlled traffic farming regimen, and thus provide a sustainable means of raising the productivity and profitability of farming structurally weak texture contrast soils.

SR15305Effects of tillage on the soil water retention curve during a fallow period of a semiarid dryland

C. Peña-Sancho, M. V. López, R. Gracia and D. Moret-Fernández
pp. 114-123

The effect of tillage practices on θ(ψ) during a long fallow period was studied under three different tillage systems: conventional, reduced and no-tillage. Tillage practices had a significant effect on θ(ψ) and related parameters, whereas soil depth did not influence θ(ψ). The first effective rainfall events promoted recovery of the soil pre-tillage θ(ψ) shapes.

Organic carbon (OC) concentration is often very low in sands. Clay addition to these soils can increase soil OC concentration through increased input of OC from increased plant biomass and increased stabilisation of OC by binding to clays. A soil-sampling methodology for organic carbon in clay-modified soil was developed, and clay modification was shown to increase OC concentrations and stocks compared with unmodified control soil.

Soil organic carbon density (SOCD) had a moderate spatial dependence with a nugget-to-sill ratio of 60.72% and a range of 182 m in the Jinjing catchment of subtropical China. The spatial variation of SOCD was affected by land use types (woodlands, paddy fields and tea fields) and topography (elevation, slope, topographic wetness index). A geographically weighted regression model improved the accuracy in predicting SOCD than ordinary kriging, inverse distance weighted, multiple linear regression, and linear mixed-effects models.

SR15322Soil organic and organomineral fractions as indicators of the effects of land management in conventional and organic sugar cane systems

Carolina B. Brandani, Thalita F. Abbruzzini, Richard T. Conant and Carlos Eduardo P. Cerri
pp. 145-161

We determined (1) the effects of different sugar cane management on the C and N content of soil organic matter (SOM) fractions; (2) the effects of crop management, soil texture, depth and different organic matter additions on changes in 13C/12C and 15N/14N isotope composition; and (3) the amount of SOC derived from different sources. Green cane combined with organic system is a strategy for long-term storage of total C and N in the SOM fraction associated with <53-µm organomineral and the light fraction.

SR16123Effects of crop rotation on properties of a Vietnam clay soil under rice-based cropping systems in small-scale farmers' fields

Tran Ba Linh, Vo Thi Guong, Vo Thi Thu Tran, Le Van Khoa, Daniel Olk and Wim M. Cornelis
pp. 162-171

Rotations rice-upland crops and upland crop monocultures alleviated soil compaction. New cropping systems improved soil physical properties at plow pan and enhanced the degree of soil organic matter decomposition in paddy soil. Rice-upland crop systems can be solution to avoid further degradation of paddy soil. The present study contributes to current knowledge towards maintaining optimum soil quality and supporting sustainable rice production area in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam.

To gain insight into the relative effects of two locust control insecticide applications, we monitored litter decomposition and microbial functional diversity responses to chemical and biopesticide treatment methods. Results suggested there is little evidence of an effect of our pesticide application methods on arid-zone litter decomposition or microbial functional diversity, thus supporting the status of the biocontrol agent (Metarhizium acridum) or ultra-low volume fipronil barrier treatments as low-hazard locust control applications in arid Australia.

Phosphorus (P) plays a vital role in plant production. However, excessive application of P as a fertilizer can lead to accumulation in the environment and pose potential threat. The present study examines the solubility of phosphorus in long-term cultivated calcareous soils. The findings indicate that P applied as a fertilizer can be immobilized via different ways. However, when the soil becomes saturated with P, any additional P dissolves and moves freely with water either directly to a stream or downward into the groundwater.

Field experiments were conducted for two consecutive seasons with four fertilisers namely inorganic fertiliser (NPK), starch-coated urea (SCU), neem-coated urea (NCU), and urea alone (UA) in a tropical wheat ecosystem. The SCU, NCU, and UA treatments decreased the total N2O emissions by 23%, 12%, and 4%, respectively, over the application of NPK. The application of SCU in wheat ecosystem is suitable as a means of reducing N2O emissions without affecting grain productivity.

Online Early

The peer-reviewed and edited version of record published online before inclusion in an issue

Published online 14 February 2017

SR16077Effect of tillage erosion on the distribution of CaCO3, phosphorus and the ratio of CaCO3/available phosphorus in the slope landscape

L. Z. Jia, J. H. Zhang, Y. Wang, Z. H. Zhang and B. Li

Tillage is an important human activity in agricultural areas, which can cause soil erosion together with the migration of soil constituents. The latter can lead to calcium carbonate replenishment and available phosphorus (AP) dilution in the surface layer of soil derived from carbonate-rich bedrocks. Reducing tillage can help increase AP concentrations in the topsoil layer and therefore improve soil fertility.

Published online 09 February 2017

SR16237A survey of total and dissolved organic carbon in alkaline soils of southern Australia

G. K. McDonald, E. Tavakkoli, D. Cozzolino, K. Banas, M. Derrien and P. Rengasamy

Dissolved organic C (DOC) is a small component of soil organic matter that influences soil chemical and biological processes and C accumulation, but variation in DOC in alkaline soils is poorly understood. A survey of alkaline soils from South Australia and Victoria found high DOC concentrations, highlighted regional differences in soil C and DOC and demonstrated how soil pH, soil chemical composition and cropping intensity influence DOC. The work improved understanding of the dynamics of soil C on alkaline soils.

Published online 30 January 2017

SR16177Prediction of soil properties by using geographically weighted regression at a regional scale

Xing Tan, Peng-Tao Guo, Wei Wu, Mao-Fen Li and Hong-Bin Liu

Spatial distribution of soil properties provides essential information for ecological modelling, environmental prediction, precision agriculture, and natural resources management, as well as land-use planning. The aim of the study was to predict spatial distribution of soil properties based on environmental variables by using geographically weighted regression. The model could deal with varying relationships between soil properties and environmental variables and its performance was improved by reducing spatial autocorrelation in model residuals.

Published online 16 January 2017

SR16205Climatically driven change in soil carbon across a basalt landscape is restricted to non-agricultural land use systems

Brian R. Wilson, Dacre King, Ivor Growns and Manoharan Veeragathipillai

Additional soil organic carbon (SOC) can potentially mitigate climate change; however, our estimates of SOC change remain uncertain owing to natural change through time. We examined land use systems across northern NSW to quantify changes in SOC in 2008–11. No SOC change was detected under agricultural systems; however, non-agricultural (native woodland) systems showed a significant SOC increase in response to high rainfall in 2010–11. We conclude that SOC has natural variability and responds rapidly to rainfall; however, this change is moderated by agricultural activity.

Published online 11 January 2017

SR16174Storage and spatial patterns of organic carbon of soil profiles in Guangdong Province, China

Huihua Zhang, Junjian Chen, Zhifeng Wu, Dingqiang Li and Li Zhu

Soil is the largest land-based reservoir of carbon on Earth; it is important for mitigating global warming and extreme weather. Subsoil organic carbon storage is approximately two-fold greater than that of A horizon soils. Thus, the results about spatial distribution and storage of subsoil carbon can provide useful information for estimating global carbon cycle rationally.

Published online 09 January 2017

SR16274The interaction between soil pH and phosphorus for wheat yield and the impact of lime-induced changes to soil aluminium and potassium

Craig A. Scanlan, Ross F. Brennan, Mario F. D'Antuono and Gavin A. Sarre

Most soils used for crop production in Western Australia are acidic, and ameliorating acid soils with lime can change the requirement for fertilisers by crops. The present study showed that a lime-induced reduction in aluminium toxicity reduced the amount of fertiliser P required at one site and a lime-induced potassium deficiency constrained the response to P fertiliser at another site. Grain producers may need to adjust phosphorus and potassium fertiliser application after liming to maximise productivity.

Prediction of the required draft force of tillage implements is important for designing an efficient machine. In the present study, an analytical model was developed to calculate draft force of a winged subsoiler based on soil mechanics and dynamics laws. The findings indicate that the model developed herein is able to predict the draft force of the machine if the required parameters of soil, machine, and working state are known.

Soil organic carbon loss is an important process for C cycle studies, which may contribute to various disciplines. The current study area is at risk owing to hilly topography, soil conditions facilitating water erosion and inappropriate agricultural practices such as excessive soil tillage and cultivation of steep lands – this makes the area typical of Mediterranean environment. Thus, this study will be a guideline for similar future studies in the Mediterranean region as well as other parts of the world.

Published online 14 December 2016

SR16140Towards improved quality of soil morphology and analytical data in Australia: starting the discussion

Andrew J. W. Biggs and Ross Searle

Review of soil data in government databases in Australia has identified many data quality issues. These issues, coupled with a lack of quality coding systems, limit the efficient and effective use of the data. The solutions we propose should form the beginning of a long-term goal of improving the quality of soil data in Australia.

Published online 05 December 2016

SR16106Characterisation of soil organic matter in a semi-arid fluvic Entisol fertilised with cattle manure and/or gliricidia by spectroscopic methods

Dário C. Primo, Rômulo S. C. Menezes, Wilson T. L. Silva, Fabio F. Oliveira, José C. B. D. Júnior and Everardo V. S. B. Sampaio

The effects of manure and/or gliricidia on soil organic matter were examined. High-quality, N-rich organic fertilizers reduced the more labile matter organic of soil. The techniques tested were good indicators of soil organic matter quality in our site.

Published online 30 November 2016

SR16127Impacts of different mulching patterns in rainfall-harvesting planting on soil water and spring corn growth development in semihumid regions of China

Xiaolong Ren, Peng Zhang, Xiaoli Liu, Shahzad Ali, Xiaoli Chen and Zhikuan Jia

In semihumid dryland farming areas of China, crop production is commonly affected by seasonal water deficit and has become a widespread issue. A four-year field trial was conducted to determine the impacts of different mulching patterns on rainfall-harvesting planting on spring corn. The results showed that rain-harvesting planting can improve soil moisture storage and availability in the furrow and increase corn yield. Thus, this method can be applied as an efficient cultivation pattern in the present as well as other similar areas.

Published online 24 November 2016

SR16218Suboptimal fertilisation compromises soil physical properties of a hard-setting sandy loam

Johannes Lund Jensen, Per Schjønning, Bent T. Christensen and Lars Juhl Munkholm

Fertilisation affects key soil physical properties related to soil tilth. We studied several soil physical properties after 120 years of contrasting fertiliser rate and type and found that crop-yield-optimised rates of mineral fertiliser appear to sustain soil physical properties almost as well as manure, whereas long-term suboptimal fertilisation compromises soil physical properties. Thus, the results illustrate the importance of ensuring an optimal crop growth to sustain soil physical properties.

Published online 10 November 2016

SR16097Long-term effects of fertilisers and organic sources on soil organic carbon fractions under a rice–wheat system in the Indo-Gangetic Plains of north-west India

D. Das, B. S. Dwivedi, V. K. Singh, S. P. Datta, M. C. Meena, D. Chakraborty, K. K. Bandyopadhyay, R. Kumar and R. P. Mishra

Long-term effects of different nutrient supply options on soil organic C (SOC) fractions and crop yields under a rice–wheat system were investigated. Conjoint use of organic manure and green gram residue with fertilisers enhanced the lability of SOC, whereas incorporation of cereal crop residues increased passive pools of SOC. Very labile and labile pools of SOC were significantly correlated with crop yields.

Published online 09 November 2016

SR16006Potential effect of melanised endophytic fungi on levels of organic carbon within an Alfisol

T. T. Mukasa Mugerwa and P. A. McGee

Food production in Australia is extremely dependent on healthy soils. Our current methods of intensive farming, however, often leave soils depleted, thereby hindering long-term crop growth. This study identified a group of beneficial fungi that could enhance soil health and provide us with a new and environmentally friendly method by which soil health, and therefore plant growth, could be improved.

Published online 08 November 2016

SR16167Tracking fertiliser and soil nitrogen in irrigated cotton: uptake, losses and the soil N stock

B. C. T. Macdonald, Y. F. Chang, A. Nadelko, S. Tuomi and M. Glover

What is the fate of fertiliser nitrogen in cotton crop production? What is the amount of nitrogen that the soil contributes to cotton crop production? These are fundamental questions for plant and soil management. The present findings indicate that the soil supplies significant amounts of nitrogen to the crop, and management of this nutrient pool is critical.

Published online 08 November 2016

SR16132Plant litter variability and soil N mobility

Hongtao Zhong, Carol Smith, Brett Robinson, Young-Nam Kim and Nicholas Dickinson

Native plants are being widely reintroduced into agricultural landscape matrices in lowland New Zealand, where they provide both perimeter buffer zones and pathways to environmental receptors. The cultural and ecological benefits of integrating natural ecosystems into farmland are well established, but little is known of their potential role in ameliorating significant environmental concerns. This study shows that litter incorporated into soil from native plants modifies soil characteristics and may help ameliorate concerns associated with nitrate leaching and greenhouse gases emissions.

Published online 03 November 2016

SR16149Upper subsoil pore characteristics and functions as affected by field traffic and freeze–thaw and dry–wet treatments

Per Schjønning, Mathieu Lamandé, Valentin Crétin and Janne Aalborg Nielsen

Soil compaction by machinery in modern agriculture may affect important functions taking place in the upper part of the non-tilled subsoil. We studied the effects of realistic field traffic on soil pores at 0.3 m depth and found that wheel loads higher than approximately 3 Mg were critical to sustained soil functions. Freeze–thaw and dry–wet processes were only partly able to ameliorate the compaction damage, which calls for an increased focus on the threat of subsoil compaction.

Published online 31 October 2016

SR16111Pedogenic processes and soil–landform relationships for identification of yield-limiting soil properties

Duraisamy Vasu, Surendra Kumar Singh, Pramod Tiwary, Padikkal Chandran, Sanjay Kumar Ray and Veppangadu Perumal Duraisami

Plant yields are limited by unfavourable changes in inherent soil properties. Herein, the inherent soil properties were studied through soil–landform relationship in a part of semi-arid tropical (SAT) Deccan Plateau in India, and subsoil sodicity and poor saturated hydraulic conductivity were identified as major plant yield-limiting factors. There is scope for upscaling the results of the present study to similar SAT areas around the world.

Published online 17 October 2016

SR16136Effects of strategic tillage on short-term erosion, nutrient loss in runoff and greenhouse gas emissions

A. R. Melland, D. L. Antille and Y. P. Dang

In long-term no-tillage soils with controlled-traffic farming, occasional strategic tillage for weed control can have negative environmental effects. In a field study, greenhouse gas emissions and water, sediment and nutrient loss in runoff after heavy rainfall were measured as being similar or higher immediately after strategic tillage compared with no-tillage systems, particularly on a sodic soil. The trade-offs between weed control, erosion and greenhouse gas emissions should be considered as part of any tillage strategy.

Gravel mulch had a significant effect on water use by suppressing soil evaporation, which translated to improved water use efficiency for canola. Gravel mulching has a favourable effect on the soil water balance, reinforcing it as a viable management option for soil water conservation, especially in arid and semiarid lands where plant available water is a major limiting factor for crop growth.

Published online 26 September 2016

SR15347Leaf decomposition of cork oak under three different land uses within a montado of southern Portugal

Maria Luísa Arosa, Sofia R. Costa and Helena Freitas

Cork oak decomposition dynamics in montado were compared under three land uses (grassland, shrubland and woodland). According to land uses, the study highlighted important differences in cork oak leaf fall, litter quality and litter decomposition. The main results showed a faster nutrient cycling occurring in montados with a high tree density and a dense shrub layer, thus lower decomposition rates occurred in the more disturbed sites.

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