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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 54 Number 6 2016


Representative grassland soils in south east NSW were sampled to provide an overview of agronomic phosphorus requirement and phosphorus environmental risk for pastoral land uses. From soil Colwell P and phosphorus buffering index (PBI) values, 20% of the sites was considered to present a significant environmental risk to water quality. Routine use of soil PBI analysis with Colwell P tests could improve land management practices to reduce diffuse pollution from agriculture.


With a single residue addition, the reduction in soil respiration with increasing salinity was smaller in soils amended with rapidly decomposable residues (low C : N ratio) compared with slowly decomposable residues (high C : N ratio). With rapidly decomposable residue, the reduction of cumulative respiration with increasing salinity was smaller with repeated addition than with only a single addition. However, this was not the case with slowly decomposable residue.


A ‘hybrid approach’ consisting of determining magnitude and cause(s) of yield gap to estimate costs of soil constraints to the Australian agriculture was proposed and demonstrated at farm scale. Multi-year spatiotemporal analysis of remotely sensed data provided a rapid and accurate assessment of areas that are consistently low-yielding over several years, indicating the presence of at least one unamended soil constraint factor. A ‘bottom-up’ approach was proposed to upscale the hybrid approach from local to national relevance.


Polyethylene film and biodegradable polymer film mulch had significant effects on soil temperature, water conservation, maize yield and water use efficiency when compared with the uncovered control. However, no significant differences were observed between the liquid membrane and control during the entire growing season. The biodegradable polymer film could potentially replace polyethylene film during agricultural production in Loess Plateau, China.

SR15074Impact of reduced tillage and crop residue management on soil properties and crop yields in a long-term trial in western Kenya

Jeremiah M. Okeyo, Jay Norton, Saidou Koala, Boaz Waswa, Job Kihara and Andre Bationo
pp. 719-729

Conservation tillage practices are necessary to stop the decline in soil fertility and crop productivity under tropical smallholder farming conditions. We assessed the long-term impact of reduced tillage and crop residue retention on soil quality and crop productivity, and our results indicate a positive influence on physical soil properties. However, there is need to maintain higher levels of crop residue to counter the negative effects of reduced tillage to enhance crop productivity.


Available water holding capacity was increased by decreasing the layer thickness in the layered soils. Decreasing layer thickness increased fine root distribution in the finer textured soil layers. Alfalfa water consumption and biomass increased in the layered soils relative to the homogeneous soils.


Knowledge of the spatial pattern of soil water temporal stability is important in hydrological research. This study evaluates the uncertainties in predicted spatial patterns of temporal stability and shows that the uncertainty due to the limited number of sampling points used for interpolation of soil moisture is more important than the uncertainty due to the limited number of sampling days used for calculating temporal stability. Additional sampling sites rather than additional sampling days should be developed to reduce prediction uncertainty.


In Queensland, Australia, the clearing of large tracts of native vegetation for agriculture has changed the hydrology of the landscape. This study found that clearing brigalow (Acacia harpophylla) increased peak run-off rate by an average of 96% when cleared and cropped and 47% when cleared and grazed. This knowledge can be used to improve hydrological modelling of landscape processes and to assist with catchment management.

SR15123Effects of controlled traffic no-till system on soil chemical properties and crop yield in annual double-cropping area of the North China Plain

Caiyun Lu, Hongwen Li, Jin He, Qingjie Wang, Khokan Kumer Sarker, Wenying Li, Zhanyuan Lu, Rabi G. Rasaily, Hui Li and Guangnan Chen
pp. 760-766

Controlled traffic no-till (NTCT) was associated with a substantial improvement in soil organic matter, total N and available P. NTCT treatment decreased the soil bulk density in the deep soil layer (10–30 cm) relative to the conventional tillage (CT) treatment. Maize and wheat yields were significantly higher under NTCT than under CT and random traffic no-till treatments.


A two-year field study on N2O emission was conducted in a wheat ecosystem. Nitrogen fertiliser stimulates N2O emission under reduced tillage practice. With increasing nitrogen fertilisation levels, nitrogen use efficiency was found to decrease irrespective of the tillage practices. A 25-% reduction in nitrogen fertiliser reduced N2O emission in conventional tillage practice without sacrificing the wheat grain productivity.

Current Issue

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

Published online 15 August 2016

SR14373Possible effects of irrigation with wastewater on the clay mineralogy of some Australian clayey soils: laboratory study

Serhiy Marchuk, Jock Churchman and Pichu Rengasamy
 

Irrigation with potassium-rich wastewater may lead to mineralogical changes in the soil, which can affect the physicochemical properties of soil. The dynamic of these changes can be monitored by X-ray diffraction analysis both qualitatively and quantitatively. Peak decomposition method showed trends towards the formation of interstratifications of illite with smectite at the expense of smectite and an alteration of poorly crystallised illite into its more well-ordered forms.

Published online 15 August 2016

SR15274Influence of the wetting process on estimation of the water-retention curve of tilled soils

D. Moret-Fernández, C. Peña-Sancho and M. V. López
 

The influence of soil wetting processes (waterlogging (WP) and capillary rise to saturation (CRP)) on the soil-water retention curve estimation was studied. Conventional tillage, reduced tillage, and no tillage treatments under different soil conditions were analyzed. CPR minimized the effect of the wetting process on the soil-water retention curve estimation, and only the freshly tilled soil under reduced tillage treatment was significantly affected by the wetting process.


Soil inorganic carbon (SIC) in landscape positions and related edaphic properties under agronomic uses in Pampean agroecosystems were examined. The following were determined: SIC relations with soil taxa, soil organic carbon effects on SIC content, and SIC distribution in soil horizons at great group level. SIC as a predictor of landscape use changes in agroecosystems.

Published online 05 September 2016

SR15210Knowledge-based soil type classification using terrain segmentation

Andrei Dornik, Lucian Drăguţ and Petru Urdea
 

The present study aims to evaluate the extent to which geographic object-based image analysis (GEOBIA) and expert-knowledge, using digital maps of climate, topography, vegetation, and geology as soil covariates, could model and reproduce a conventional soil map at a scale 1 : 1 000 000 in the south-west of Romania. The results showed that the similarity with the conventional soil map was higher when modelling was conducted through GEOBIA approach (general similarity of 65% and fuzzy kappa index of 0.58) than that obtained using the pixel-based approach and SoilGrids.


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.


Coastal acid sulfate soils (CASS) were identified on the Anglesea River estuarine floodplain in southern Australia. On the lower estuarine floodplain, potential acidity can be neutralised by shell materials and seawater, resulting in negative net acidity. Conversely, net acidity was positive on the upper estuarine floodplain owing to the diminishing influence of seawater and shell materials. High concentrations of organic matter and trace metals can further contribute to acidity in these sites.

Published online 22 August 2016

SR15199Soil properties and carbon stocks in a grey Vertosol irrigated with treated sewage effluent

N. R. Hulugalle, T. B. Weaver, L. A. Finlay and V. Heimoana
 

Changes in soil salinity, sodicity and carbon C storage in a grey Vertosol under conservation farming and irrigated with tertiary-treated sewage effluent were assessed over a 14-year period. Salinity and exchangeable Mg concentration were strongly influenced by interactions between seasonal rainfall (i.e. floods and drought) and the quality of the effluent, whereas exchangeable sodium percentage and exchangeable K concentration changes were not affected by variations in seasonal rainfall. Soil organic content declined until the flooding events but increased thereafter.

Published online 22 August 2016

SR15252Mineralogy of volcanically derived alluvial soils at Moshi, Tanzania

T. S. Taylor, J. C. Hughes and L. W. Titshall
 

Irrigation of crops on volcanic soils in Tanzania is common, but knowledge of their mineralogy and its effect on soil properties is scarce. This study investigated the mineralogy of such soils on a sugar estate and found that the main clay minerals were halloysite, high-defect kaolinite and allophane. This suite of minerals has a major effect on the reactive surface area and is likely to affect the physical properties of these soils, such as water retention and transmission properties.

Published online 22 August 2016

SR15291Spatial and temporal variations of soil function in a Mediterranean serpentine ecosystem

Nikolaos Monokrousos, George Charalampidis, Pantelitsa Kapagianni, Maria D. Argyropoulou and Efimia M. Papatheodorou
 

Serpentine soils are naturally metalliferous and hostile to most plants and animals. Exploring soil variables under evergreen-sclerophyllous and phryganic shrubs of a serpentine Mediterranean ecosystem revealed that heavy metals did not inhibit soil enzymes that reflect microbial activity, while potassium availability was crucial for the establishment of vegetation. The climate imposed strong temporal variations on the soil environment. The availability of nutrients and heavy metals in soils under the different plant species was not reflected in their foliar concentrations.

Published online 22 August 2016

SR15359The nitrification inhibitor 3,4,-dimethylpyrazole phosphate strongly inhibits nitrification in coarse-grained soils containing a low abundance of nitrifying microbiota

Elliott G. Duncan, Cathryn A. O'Sullivan, Anna K. Simonsen, Margaret M. Roper, Mark B. Peoples, Karen Treble and Kelley Whisson
 

The nitrification inhibitor 3,4,-dimethylpyrozole phosphate (DMPP) may be effective in minimising environmental degradation caused by NO3leaching from excessive N fertiliser use. DMPP has not been widely investigated on coarse-grained soils containing a low abundance of nitrifying microbes. In this study, using such soils, DMPP conserved NH4+ and inhibited nitrifying microbial populations for 100 days, which is longer than observed previously for heavier soil types. In addition, DMPP was more effective than another nitrification inhibitor (nitrapyrin) in inhibiting nitrification. These soils also contained low Cu, a cofactor in ammonia mono-oxygenase (AMO), which facilitates nitrification, suggesting an interaction between DMPP and Cu availability controlled this process. Thus, DMPP has the potential to be an important tool in minimising nitrification in areas where these soils are common (e.g. Western Australia’s agricultural zones).

Published online 22 August 2016

SR15169Prediction of salt transport in different soil textures under drip irrigation in an arid zone using the SWAGMAN Destiny model

Haichang Yang, Yun Chen, Fenghua Zhang, Tingbao Xu and Xu Cai
 

Traditional detailed field experiments on soil textures and salt content were combined with the SWAGMAN Destiny model for providing reliable estimates on long-term salt change dynamics. The desalinization rate in sand, which appears to be steady in the whole profile, is generally higher than that in loam and clay. Soil salinity decreases in the upper layers and increases in the bottom layers of the investigated soil profile.

Published online 30 August 2016

SR16068Soil charcoal prediction using attenuated total reflectance mid-infrared spectroscopy

E. U. Hobley, A. J. L. E. Gay Brereton and B. Wilson
 

We quantified the charcoal content of artificial soil samples of defined quantities of rock, charcoal and litter, spanning a wide range of organic carbon contents (0.1–15%). Using attenuated total reflectance mid-infrared spectroscopy combined with randomForest modelling, we overcame traditional limitations (e.g. non-linearity) of infrared analysis and accurately quantified the charcoal content of the standards, enabling rapid, low-cost and efficient charcoal analysis in soil.


Sediments were collected from burned and unburned plots with different vegetation cover conditions after each rainfall event. The main aim of the study was to examine the effects of post-fire vegetation cover, bare soil disaggregation, slope and rainfall intensity on eroded sediment size distribution. Finer soil particles were transported more from burned than unburned plots because of significant differences in vegetation cover.


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.


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.

Published online 13 July 2016

SR15346Effect of different rice establishment methods on soil physical properties in drought-prone, rainfed lowlands of Bihar, India

Surajit Mondal, Santosh Kumar, A. Abdul Haris, S. K. Dwivedi, B. P. Bhatt and J. S. Mishra
 

Puddling that deteriorates soil health is a time consuming and labour intensive process. The aims of the study was to evaluate the effect of alternative rice establishment methods on soil physical properties and productivity of the rice-wheat cropping system. Unpuddling can create a more favorable conditions for soil health by improving bulk density, aggregation stability, pore size distribution, penetration resistance which in the longer term can improve crop growth.

Published online 29 August 2016

SR15367Transport characteristics of heavy metals, metalloids and pesticides through major agricultural soils of Bangladesh as determined by TDR

M. A. Mojid, A. B. M. Z. Hossain, V. Cappuyns and G. C. L. Wyseure
 

The transport parameters of heavy metal/metalloid compounds and pesticides in soils as well as their relationships with soil physicochemical properties are needed for assessment of pollutant mobility in the soils. Time-domain reflectometry-measured bulk soil electrical conductivity can be used as the basic data for the transport parameters and relationships. The clay content and, in some cases, median grain diameter of the soil controls the relationships between the transport parameters and soils.

Published online 29 August 2016

SR15342Effects of municipal solid waste compost, rice-straw compost and mineral fertilisers on biological and chemical properties of a saline soil and yields in a mustard–pearl millet cropping system

M. D. Meena, P. K. Joshi, B. Narjary, P. Sheoran, H. S. Jat, A. R. Chinchmalatpure, R. K. Yadav and D. K. Sharma
 

Soil microbial carbon was significantly higher with MSWC+50% recommended dose of fertilisers (RDF) than control. Soil salinity significantly decreased using 37% with MSWC + 50% RDF relative to the control at 150 days of mustard growth during 2013–14. The maximum concentration of soil organic carbon (SOC) was observed with MSWC+50% RDF. The grain yield increased by 10% and 28% for mustard and pearl millet, respectively, with RSC + 50% RDF relative to 100% RDF during the first year of cropping cycle.


To reduce net greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, we hypothesised that grazing systems with historically high stocking rates would require higher net primary production by pasture plants, hence the possibility of sequestering more soil carbon, than systems with average stocking rates. We compared two such systems, 18 vs 9 dry sheep equivalents (dse) ha–1, on the New England Tableland and found no differences in soil carbon despite an inferred approximately 30% greater net primary production at the higher stocking rate. Together with other reports, this suggests that changes in grazing management will not produce increases in soil carbon in most Australian environments.

Published online 29 August 2016

SR15277Effects of permanent grass versus tillage on aggregation and organic matter dynamics in a poorly developed vineyard soil

Sergio A. Belmonte, Luisella Celi, Silvia Stanchi, Daniel Said-Pullicino, Ermanno Zanini and Eleonora Bonifacio
 

The study evaluates the effects of permanent grass versus single autumn tillage on soil structure and organic matter dynamics in a hilly vineyard. Grass cover had positive effects on soil organic matter and aggregate stability but the improvement was slow. Conversely, tillage induced an immediate negative effect, especially on aggregate resistance. Tillage altered organic matter dynamics by preventing the addition of new material into the mineral-associated organic fractions and limiting the stabilisation of aggregates.

Published online 05 September 2016

SR15281An alternative index to the exchangeable sodium percentage for an explanation of dispersion occurring in soils

John McL. Bennett, Alla Marchuk and Serhiy Marchuk
 

There are differential dispersive/flocculative effects of K and Mg to Na and Ca, respectively. Hence, there is a requirement to replace the exchangeable sodium percentage (ESP). Exchangeable dispersive percentage (EDP) is derived to replace ESP. The EDP is validated against two datasets, and further mathematical investigation of the contribution of Mg to dispersion is undertaken. Mineralogy affects turbidity results at a given dispersive index, and an improved criterion for assessment of Mg effect on dispersivity is presented.


Very dry soil moisture conditions enhanced particulate phosphorus losses in surface runoff from an Organic soil and from a Brown soil under very wet conditions. A high hydraulic conductivity resulted in more P being lost in subsurface flow than surface runoff from the Organic soil, whereas surface runoff losses dominated the Brown soil. The quantity of P lost was inversely related to the anion storage capacity of the soil.

Published online 12 September 2016

SR16047Dissolved organic nitrogen contributes significantly to leaching from furrow-irrigated cotton–wheat–maize rotations

B. C. T. Macdonald, A. J. Ringrose-Voase, A. J. Nadelko, M. Farrell, S. Tuomi and G. Nachimuthu
 

In the present study, over a 5-year period (2008–2013), 740 kg N ha–1 fertiliser was applied to an irrigated cotton–wheat–maize rotation on a cracking clay (grey Vertosol). The N in the drainage was composed of 12.8 kg NOx-N ha–1, 8.7 DON-N and 0.1 NH4+-N kg ha–1. This result shows that DON is an important component (40%) of the deep drainage N from irrigated Vertosol cotton production systems.

Published online 12 September 2016

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
 

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.

Published online 05 September 2016

SR15153The influence of surfactant and organic matter content on wetting pattern of different non-water repellent soils

Mohammad Reza Chaichi, Marcus Turcios and Mina Rostamza
 

Few studies have evaluated the risks and benefits of non-ionic surfactant applications in wettable soil. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of a surfactant in modifying the wetting pattern in soils of different textures and organic matter contents. The results demonstrated the superiority of surfactant application on increasing water distribution in the soil profile for all soil textural classes.

Published online 05 September 2016

SR15377Qualitative and quantitative response of soil organic carbon to 40 years of crop residue incorporation under contrasting nitrogen fertilisation regimes

Christopher Poeplau, Lisa Reiter, Antonio Berti and Thomas Kätterer
 

The long-term effect of crop residue incorporation on soil organic carbon stocks and fractions was investigated in a field experiment in Padua, Italy. After 40 years, only 4% (3.1 Mg ha–1) of the incorporated residue-carbon was retained in the soil with 93% of that carbon being stabilised in the silt and clay fraction. We concluded that aboveground crop residue incorporation was not a significant measure to increase soil carbon storage in the investigated experiment.

Published online 20 September 2016

SR15219Gypsum application increases the carbon stock in soil under sugar cane in the Cerrado region of Brazil

L. G. Araújo, C. C. Figueiredo and D. M. G. Sousa
 

The use of gypsum to amend tropical soils rich in toxic aluminium can effectively increase soil carbon stocks. Total carbon stock in the soil and its fractions were estimated after four growing seasons of sugar cane under gypsum application. Of the total increase in C stocks resulting from gypsum application, 80% occurred in the 40–100-cm layer.

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