CSIRO Publishing blank image blank image blank image blank imageBooksblank image blank image blank image blank imageJournalsblank image blank image blank image blank imageAbout Usblank image blank image blank image blank imageShopping Cartblank image blank image blank image You are here: Journals > Soil Research   
Soil Research
Journal Banner
  Soil, Land Care & Environmental Research
blank image Search
blank image blank image
blank image
  Advanced Search

Journal Home
About the Journal
Editorial Board
For Advertisers
Online Early
Current Issue
Just Accepted
All Issues
Special Issues
Sample Issue
For Authors
General Information
Notice to Authors
Submit Article
Open Access
For Referees
Referee Guidelines
Review an Article
Annual Referee Index
For Subscribers
Subscription Prices
Customer Service
Print Publication Dates

blue arrow e-Alerts
blank image
Subscribe to our Email Alert or RSS feeds for the latest journal papers.

red arrow Connect with us
blank image
facebook twitter youtube

Now Online

Land Resources Surveys


Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 52(5)

Impacts of landform, land use and soil type on soil chemical properties and enzymatic activities in a Loessial Gully watershed

Yajun Hao A , Qingrui Chang A D , Linhai Li B and Xiaorong Wei A C D

A College of Natural Resources and Environment, Northwest A&F University, Yangling 712100, China.
B Beijing Museum of Natural History, Beijing 100050, China.
C State Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming in the Loess Plateau, Northwest A&F University, Yangling, 712100 China.
D Corresponding authors. Emails: changqr@nwsuaf.edu.cn;xrwei78@163.com; weixr@nwsuaf.edu.cn

Soil Research 52(5) 453-462 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/SR13202
Submitted: 12 July 2013  Accepted: 28 February 2014   Published: 3 May 2014

PDF (232 KB) $25
 Export Citation

Understanding the relationships among soil properties and, in turn, their relationships with landform, land use and soil type is essential for assessing soil quality and soil productivity. In this study, we examined the differences in the chemical properties and enzymatic activities of soils in a variety of landforms (plateau land, sloping land, terraced land and gully bottoms), land uses (woodland, grassland, cropland and orchard) and soil types (Chernozems, Cambisols and Regosols) in a gully watershed on the Loess Plateau, China. In total, 202 samples of surface soil (0–20 cm) were collected from different representative landscape units of the watershed. The chemical properties and enzymatic activities of the soils were measured. The results showed that chemical properties and enzymatic activities of the soils were all significantly influenced by landform, land use and soil type. There were interactive effects between landform and soil type. Soil pH varied the least, while invertase activity varied the most with landscape conditions. Soil pH, cation exchange capacity, organic carbon and total nitrogen contents, and enzymatic activities were all highest on plateau land and lowest on terraced land. Soil organic carbon and total nitrogen contents and alkaline phosphatase and invertase activities were higher in Chernozems than in Regosols, but the opposite trend was noted for pH, cation exchange capacity and catalase activity. Significantly higher values for most soil properties or enzymatic activities occurred in combinations including plateau land, Chernozems or Regosols. Soil pH was significantly lower in woodland soils than for other land uses, whereas the other properties had higher values in grassland and woodland soils than in orchard soils. The results from this study indicate the roles of landform, land use and soil type on the spatial patterns of chemical properties and enzymatic activities of soils and suggest that crops and orchards should be arranged on plateau land, and grasses and woodland on terraced and sloping land, respectively, for better economic and ecological efficiency in the area.

Additional keywords: landform, land use, Loessial gully region, soil chemical properties, soil enzyme, soil type.


Acosta-Martínez V, Tabatabai MA (2000) Enzyme activities in a limed agricultural soil. Biology and Fertility of Soils 31, 85–91.
CrossRef |

Acosta-Martínez V, Zobeck TM, Gill TE, Kennedy AC (2003) Enzyme activities and microbial community structure of agricultural semiarid soils. Biology and Fertility of Soils 38, 216–227.
CrossRef |

Acosta-Martínez V, Zobeck TM, Allen V (2004) Soil microbial, chemical and physical properties in continuous cotton and integrated crop-livestock systems. Soil Science Society of America Journal 68, 1875–1884.
CrossRef |

Acosta-Martínez V, Cruz L, Sotomayor-Ramírez D, Pérez-Alegría L (2007) Enzyme activities as affected by soil properties and land use in a tropical watershed. Applied Soil Ecology 35, 35–45.
CrossRef |

Aira M, Monroy F, Domínguez J (2007) Microbial biomass governs enzyme activity decay during aging of worm-worked substrates through vermicomposting. Journal of Environmental Quality 36, 448–452.
CrossRef | CAS | PubMed |

Allison VJ, Condron LM, Peltzer DA, Richardson SJ, Turner BL (2007) Changes in enzyme activities and soil microbial community composition along carbon and nutrient gradients at the Franz Josef chronosequence, New Zealand. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 39, 1770–1781.
CrossRef | CAS |

Badiane NNY, Chotte JL, Pate E, Masse D, Rouland C (2001) Use of soil enzyme activities to monitor soil quality in natural and improved fallows in semi-arid tropical regions. Applied Soil Ecology 18, 229–238.
CrossRef |

Billings SA (2006) Soil organic matter dynamics and land use change at a grassland/forest ecotone. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 38, 2934–2943.
CrossRef | CAS |

Boerner REJ, Brinkman JA, Smith A (2005) Seasonal variations in enzyme activity and organic carbon in soil of a burned and unburned hardwood forest. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 37, 1419–1426.
CrossRef | CAS |

Dick RP (1994) Soil enzyme activities as indicators of soil quality. In ‘Defining soil quality for a sustainable environment’. (Eds JW Doran, DC Coleman, DF Bezdicek, BA Stewart) pp. 107–124. (Soil Science Society of America: Madison, WI, USA)

Dornbush ME (2007) Grasses, litter, and their interaction affect microbial biomass and soil enzyme activity. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 39, 2241–2249.
CrossRef | CAS |

Falkengren-Grerup U, Brink DJ, Brunet J (2006) Land use effects on soil N, P, C and pH persist over 40–80 years of forest growth on agricultural soils. Forest Ecology and Management 225, 74–81.
CrossRef |

FAO (1998) ‘FAO/ISRIC/ISSS, World Reference Base for Soil Resources.’ World Soil Resources Reports. (FAO: Rome)

Florinsky IV, McMahon S, Burton DL (2004) Topographic control of soil microbial activity: a case study of denitrifiers. Geoderma 119, 33–53.
CrossRef | CAS |

Frankenberger WT, Johanson JB (1983) Factors affecting invertase activity in soils. Plant and Soil 74, 313–323.
CrossRef | CAS |

Fu B, Chen L, Qiu Y (2002) ‘Land use structure and ecological process in the hilly area of the Loess Plateau.’ (Commercial Press: Beijing)

Gaiser T, Bernard M, Stahr K (1994) Nitrogen and carbon mineralization in cultivated acrisols and vertisols in a sub-humid tropical climate. Journal of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science 157, 375–381.

García-Gil JC, Plaza C, Soler-Rovira P, Polo A (2000) Long-term effects of municipal solid waste compost application on soil enzyme activities and microbial biomass. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 32, 1907–1913.
CrossRef |

Gianfreda L, Rao MA, Piotrowska A, Palumbo G, Colombo C (2005) Soil enzyme activities as affected by anthropogenic alterations: intensive agricultural practices and organic pollution. The Science of the Total Environment 341, 265–279.
CrossRef | CAS | PubMed |

Gillman GP (1981) Effects of pH and ionic strength on the cation exchange capacity of soils with variable charge. Australian Journal of Soil Research 19, 93–96.
CrossRef |

Hao MD, Liang YL (1998) ‘Changwu agricultural ecosystem: Structure, function, and adjustion.’ (China Meteorological Press: Beijing)

Hao MD, Zhang JX, Hu KC (1991) The fertilization in agricultural production of the middle Loess Plateau. In ‘Comprehensive research of effective eco-economic systems in Wangdonggou, Changwu’. (Eds YS Li, SM Su) pp. 182–187. (Science and Technology Press: Beijing)

Johnson JL, Temple KL (1964) Some variables affecting the measurement of catalase activity in soil. Soil Science Society of America Proceedings 28, 207–209.
CrossRef | CAS |

Karlen DL, Mausbach MJ, Doran JW, Cline RG, Harris RF, Schuman GE (1997) Soil quality: A concept, definition, and framework for evaluation. Soil Science Society of America Journal 61, 4–10.
CrossRef | CAS |

Khan SHM, Parkash BT, Kumar S (2005) Soil–landform development of a part of the fold belt along the eastern coast of Bangladesh. Geomorphology 71, 310–327.
CrossRef |

Li X (2001) ‘Soil chemistry.’ (High Education Press: Beijing)

Liang B, Lehmann J, Solomon D, Kinyangi J, Grossman J, O’Neill B, Skjemstad JO, Thies J, Luizão FJ, Petersen J, Neves EG (2006) Black carbon increases cation exchange capacity in soils. Soil Science Society of America Journal 70, 1719–1730.
CrossRef | CAS |

Mahboubi AA, Lal R, Fausey NR (1993) Twenty-eight years of tillage effect on two soils in Ohio. Soil Science Society of America Journal 57, 506–512.
CrossRef |

Martin WA, Timmer VR (2006) Capturing spatial variability of soil and litter properties in a forest stand by landform segmentation procedures. Geoderma 132, 169–181.
CrossRef |

McKinley VL, Peacock AD, White DC (2005) Microbial community PLFA and PHB responses to ecosystem restoration in tallgrass prairie soils. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 37, 1946–1958.
CrossRef | CAS |

McLauchlan KK, Hobbie SE, Post WM (2006) Conversion from agriculture to grassland builds soil organic matter on decadal timescales. Ecological Applications 16, 143–153.
CrossRef | PubMed |

Mijangos I, Perez R, Albizu I, Garbisu C (2006) Effects of fertilization and tillage on soil biological parameters. Enzyme and Microbial Technology 40, 100–106.
CrossRef | CAS |

Monkiedje A, Spiteller M, Fotio D, Sukul P (2006) The effect of land use on soil health indicators in peri-urban agriculture in the humid forest zone of southern Cameroon. Journal of Environmental Quality 35, 2402–2409.
CrossRef | CAS | PubMed |

Nannipieri P, Kandeler E, Ruggiero P (2002) Enzyme activities and microbiological and biochemical processes in soil. In ‘Enzymes in the environment’. (Eds RG Burns, RP Dick) pp. 1–34. (Marcel Dekker Inc.: New York)

Ndiaye EL, Sandeno JM, McGrath D, Dick RP (2000) Integrative biological indicators for detecting change in soil quality. American Journal of Alternative Agriculture 15, 26–36.
CrossRef |

Nortcliff S (2002) Standardization of soil quality attributes. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 88, 161–168.
CrossRef |

Nourbakhsh F (2007) Decoupling of soil biological properties by deforestation. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 121, 435–438.
CrossRef |

Page AL, Miller RH, Kenney DR (1982) ‘Methods of soil analysis Part 2.’ Agronomy Monographs 9. (American Society of Agronomy: Madison, WI, USA)

Qiu LP, Zhang XC (2006) Effects of land use on soil properties in Ziwuling Region. Journal of Natural Resource 21, 965–972.

Qiu LP, Zhang XC, Cheng JM, Yin XQ (2010) Effects of black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) on soil properties in the loessial gully region of the Loess Plateau, China. Plant and Soil 332, 207–217.
CrossRef | CAS |

Reeves DW (1997) The role of soil organic matter in maintaining soil quality in continuous cropping systems. Soil & Tillage Research 43, 131–167.
CrossRef |

Sanchez PA, Palm CA, Buol SW (2003) Fertility capability soil classification: a tool to help assess soil quality in the tropics. Geoderma 114, 157–185.
CrossRef | CAS |

SAS Institute (1999) ‘SAS user’s guide. Version 8.’ (SAS Institute Inc.: Cary, NC, USA)

Sicardi M, Garcei-Prechac F, Frioni L (2004) Soil microbial indicators sensitive to land use conversion from pastures to commercial Eucalyptus grandis (Hillex Maiden) plantations in Uruguay. Applied Soil Ecology 27, 125–133.
CrossRef |

Stocking MA (2003) Tropical soils and food security: The next 50 years. Science 302, 1356–1359.
CrossRef | CAS | PubMed |

Swanson FJ, Kratz TK, Caine N, Woodmansee RG (1988) Landform effects on ecosystem patterns and processes. Bioscience 38, 92–98.
CrossRef |

Tang K (2004) ‘Soil and water conservation in China.’ (Science Press: Beijing)

Templer PH, Groffman PM, Flecker AS, Power AG (2005) Land use change and soil nutrient transformations in the Los Haitises region of the Dominican Republic. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 37, 215–225.
CrossRef | CAS |

Trasar-Cepeda C, Camina F, Leirós MC, Gil-Sotres F (1999) An improved method to measure catalase activity in soils. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 31, 483–485.
CrossRef | CAS |

Tscherko D, Bolter M, Beyer L, Chen J, Elster J, Kandeler E, Kuhn D, Blume HP (2003) Biomass and enzyme activity of two soil transects at King George Island, Maritime Antarctica. Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research 35, 34–47.
CrossRef |

Vepsäläinen M, Kukkonen S, Vestberg M, Sirviö H, Niemi RM (2001) Application of soil enzyme activity test kit in a field experiment. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 33, 1665–1672.
CrossRef |

Wang J, Fu BJ, Qiu Y, Chen LD (2003) Analysis on soil nutrient characteristics for sustainable land use in Da Nangou catchment of the Loess Plateau, China. Catena 54, 17–29.
CrossRef | CAS |

Wei XR, Shao MA (2007a) Distribution of soil properties as affected by landforms in watershed of loessial gully region. Journal of Natural Resources 22, 946–953.

Wei XR, Shao MA (2007b) The distribution of soil nutrients on sloping land in the gully region watershed of the Loess Plateau. Acta Ecologica Sinica 27, 603–612.

Wei XR, Hao MD, Shao MA, Gale WJ (2006) Changes in soil properties and the availability of soil micronutrients after 18 years of cropping and fertilization. Soil & Tillage Research 91, 120–130.
CrossRef |

Wei XR, Shao MA, Fu XL, Horton R, Li Y, Zhang XC (2009a) Distribution of soil organic C, N and P in three adjacent land use patterns in the northern Loess Plateau, China. Biogeochemistry 96, 149–162.
CrossRef | CAS |

Wei XR, Shao MA, Zhang XC, Shao HB (2009b) Landform affects on profile distribution of soil properties in black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) land in loessial gully region of the Chinese Loess Plateau and its implications for vegetation restoration. African Journal of Biotechnology 8, 2984–2992.

Xu M, Zhao Y, Liu G, Wilson GV (2006) Identification of soil quality factors and indicators for the Loess Plateau of China. Soil Science 171, 400–413.

Zhou LK, Zhang ZM (1980) Measurements of soil enzyme. Chinese Journal of Soil Science 5, 37–38.

Subscriber Login

Legal & Privacy | Contact Us | Help


© CSIRO 1996-2015