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Dynamics of Soil Organic Carbon and Soil Fertility Affected by Alfalfa Productivity in a Semiarid Agro-Ecosystem
Yu Jia, Feng-Min Li, Xiao-Ling Wang and Jin-Zhang Xu
Vol. 80, No. 3 (Sep., 2006), pp. 233-243
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20456400
Page Count: 11
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We explore the dynamics of soil organic carbon of various forms and its relation with soil fertility in seeded alfalfa grassland established using a field micro-catchment technique to harvest water on the semiarid Loess Plateau in China. Five regimes were set up: (1) conventional flat cultivation without mulch (CK), (2) ridges and furrows were set up alternately on flat land, with 15 cm between each so that the distance between successive ridges (or successive furrows) was 30 cm, and the ridges were mulched with plastic film (M30), (3) similar to M30, but with twice the distance between furrows and ridges (M60), (4) similar to M30, but the ridges were not mulched (B30), (5) similar to M60, but the ridges were not mulched (B60). The increase in alfalfa forage yield in the mulch regimes promotes soil organic carbon (SOC) content, the light fraction of organic carbon (LFOC), the heavy fraction of organic carbon (HFOC) and microbial biomass carbon (MBC). MBC was significantly higher in M30 and M60 than in the other regimes. Significant positive correlation is found between MBC and LFOC (R=0.89; P<0.0001), and MBC and HFOC (R=0.82; P=0.00016). At the end of our three-year experiment, the C/N ratio of 10.09 in M60 was significantly (P<0.005) higher than the other regimes. Since a lower C/N ratio accelerates SOC decomposition in this region, the higher C/N ratio in M60 could limit mineralization of soil nitrogen, conserving soil nitrogen and SOC. The lower ratio of nitrate and nitrite nitrogen to total nitrogen, of 10.74, in M60 at the end of this experiment than in the other regimes and before sowing supports this point. The correlations of SOC with available P and with the ratio of available P to total P are positive in the dry year of 2001, but negative in the wet year of 2002. This can be explained on the basis that a high forage yield of alfalfa requires more soil available P in the wet years than in the dry years.
Biogeochemistry © 2006 Springer