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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 3 2017


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.


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.


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.

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
pp. 234-244

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.


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.

SR16132Plant litter variability and soil N mobility

Hongtao Zhong, Carol Smith, Brett Robinson, Young-Nam Kim and Nicholas Dickinson
pp. 253-263

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.

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
pp. 264-272

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.

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
pp. 273-284

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.


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.

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
pp. 296-308

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.

Online Early

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

Published online 06 April 2017

SR16190Early seedling establishment on aged Tasmanian tin mine tailings constrained by nutrient deficiency and soil structure, not toxicity

Stuart J. Macdonald, Gregory J. Jordan, Tanya G. Bailey and Neil Davidson
 

Revegetation of abandoned mine wastes can play a critical role in ameliorating the flux of environmental toxins. We investigated the recalcitrance of barren mine wastes at a long abandoned tin mine and discovered nutrient and structural factors as major limitations to seedling establishment. This study highlights the potential for plant establishment in previously hostile environments.

Published online 05 April 2017

SR163404-Amino-1,2,4-triazole can be more effective than commercial nitrification inhibitors at high soil temperatures

Tariq Mahmood, Rehmat Ali, Asma Lodhi and Muhammad Sajid
 

As commercial nitrification inhibitors (NIs) namely nitrapyrin, 3,4-dimethylpyrazol phosphate (DMPP) and dicyandiamide (DCD) are ineffective at high soil temperatures, it is worth exploring new compounds that can serve as effective NIs under warm climate. Comparing the effectiveness of 4-amino-1,2,4-triazole (ATC), DMPP and DCD to inhibit nitrification of (NH4)2SO4 at 35°C revealed that ATC was more effective than the commercial NIs. Therefore, ATC shows potential for commercialisation as an effective NI for high as well as moderate soil temperatures.


Soil salinisation harms large areas of agricultural land in Australia and other arid countries. We conducted field trials of how best to remediate saline and sodic (high exchangeable sodium) drought-affected soils in the Lower Murray region using various treatments (gypsum, limestone, seawater, acid) followed by irrigation. The results highlighted that irrigation only, without further costly soil amendment, could be effective in remediating the soils.

Published online 03 April 2017

SR16333Estimating the van Genuchten retention curve parameters of undisturbed soil from a single upward infiltration measurement

D. Moret-Fernández, C. Peña-Sancho, B. Latorre, Y. Pueyo and M. V. López
 

Estimating soil hydraulic properties of undisturbed soil samples is of paramount importance in many areas such as hydrology, soil science, and engineering. A new method to estimate the soil hydraulic properties of undisturbed samples is presented. The results showed that this method is a promising technique.

Published online 15 March 2017

SR16144Pronounced surface stratification of soil phosphorus, potassium and sulfur under pastures upstream of a eutrophic wetland and estuarine system

Megan H. Ryan, Mark Tibbett, Hans Lambers, David Bicknell, Phillip Brookes, Edward G. Barrett-Lennard, Carlos Ocampo and Dion Nicol
 

Movement of phosphorus off farms into waterways is detrimental to the health of downstream aquatic systems through promotion of algal blooms. We measured the concentration of phosphorus, and other elements, in the top 100 mm of soil under a beef farm and a dairy farm and found extremely high concentrations in the top 10 mm of soil. Management practices that lower phosphorus concentrations in surface soil will likely benefit the health of downstream ecosystems by reducing phosphorus movement off-farm.

Published online 28 February 2017

SR16186Spatial patterns and edge effects on soil organic matter and nutrients in a forest fragment of southern Brazil

Thomas Schröder and Frederico D. Fleig
 

Soil quality affects atmospheric carbon sequestration of terrestrial vegetation by limiting its growth. We aimed to discriminate between the natural processes and human influence on soil nutrients in a forest fragment and grassland created by afforestation. Afforested areas had lower soil quality and this effect was also observed in neighbouring forested areas.

Published online 22 February 2017

SR16090Quantifying above and belowground biomass carbon inputs for sugar-cane production in Brazil

A. M. Silva-Olaya, C. A. Davies, C. E. P. Cerri, D. J. Allen, F. F. C. Mello and C. C. Cerri
 

To meet national and international demands for ethanol, sugarcane cropping has increased in Brazil in the last years, affecting soil organic matter and subsequently ethanol sustainability. Herein, we quantified aboveground and belowground biomass production, shoot-to-root ratio, and the net and gross annual organic matter increases as a result of sugarcane cropping. Our results showed that the use of a mechanised green cane harvesting system resulted in significant organic matter increases that reduced the impact of land use change due to sugarcane expansion on pastures and Cerrado vegetation.

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 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.

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