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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 7 2016

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.

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.

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
pp. 797-808

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.

SR15210Knowledge-based soil type classification using terrain segmentation

Andrei Dornik, Lucian Drăguţ and Petru Urdea
pp. 809-823

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.

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.

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
pp. 840-846

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.

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
pp. 847-856

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.

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.

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.

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.

Online Early

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

Published online 17 October 2016

SR15143Mass loss and release of nutrient from empty fruit bunch of oil palm applied as mulch to newly transplanted oil palm

A. B. Rosenani, W. Rabuni, P. Cheah and J. Noraini

Sustainable management practices have been widely adopted in the oil palm sector, especially in the recycling of oil palm solid waste. The decomposition of oil palm empty fruit bunch (EFB) enables recycling of nutrients that are released into the soil when EFB is applied as a mulch for newly transplanted oil palms. Ninety days after application of EFB mulch, the dry weight decreased to half of the original weight, and soil properties significantly improved when compared with the properties of soil that was not conditioned with EFB mulch.

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 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.

Published online 10 October 2016

SR16058The composition of organic phosphorus in soils of the Snowy Mountains region of south-eastern Australia

Ashlea L. Doolette, Ronald J. Smernik and Timothy I. McLaren

Climate strongly influences the cycling of soil organic matter by controlling the release and accumulation of organic carbon and nitrogen. However, little is known about the effect of climate on the phosphorus component of soil organic matter (i.e. organic P). Here we examine the speciation of P in some Australian alpine and sub-alpine soils. We provide preliminary evidence that the organic P composition of these soils from wet, cool environments is markedly different to that typically observed from warm, dry environments in Australia.

Published online 10 October 2016

SR16116Nitrification potential in the rhizosphere of Australian native vegetation

Saikat Chowdhury, Ramya Thangarajan, Nanthi Bolan, Julianne O'Reilly-Wapstra, Anitha Kunhikrishnan and Ravi Naidu

Rhizosphere effect on nitrogen transformation in Australian native plants was investigated. Ammonium oxidizing bacteria and nitrification potential were lower in rhizosphere soils than that in non-rhizosphere soils. Some Australian native plants were found to inhibit nitrification in their rhizosphere.

Published online 03 October 2016

SR16057Minerals control phosphorus solubility in long-term-cultivated calcareous soils

Mohsen Jalali and Mahdi Jalali

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.

Published online 03 October 2016

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

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

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.

Published online 26 September 2016

SR15038Effects of land use and topography on spatial variety of soil organic carbon density in a hilly, subtropical catchment of China

Huanyao Liu, Jiaogen Zhou, Qingyu Feng, Yuyuan Li, Yong Li and Jinshui Wu

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.

Published online 26 September 2016

SR16011Effects of soil composition and preparation on the prediction of particle size distribution using mid-infrared spectroscopy and partial least-squares regression

Leslie J. Janik, José M. Soriano-Disla, Sean T. Forrester and Michael J. McLaughlin

Soil composition, heterogeneity and carbonate content can affect the prediction accuracy of particle size distribution (PSD) using mid-infrared diffuse reflectance and partial least-squares regression (PLSR). Single large global calibrations could be used for PSD predictions of specific soil sets and showed improvement by fine grinding. The PLSR loading weights, associated with grinding, were linked to a reduction of inter- and intra-particulate heterogeneity and access of the infrared into the soil matrix by removal or dilution of surface coatings.

Published online 26 September 2016

SR16010Available carbon and nitrate increase greenhouse gas emissions from soils affected by salinity

Duy Minh Dang, Ben Macdonald, Sören Warneke and Ian White

Sea-level rise and saline water intrusion have caused a shortage of fresh water and affected agricultural areas globally. The findings of an incubation experiment to examine the effects of salinity on soil carbon and nitrogen cycling indicate that salinity has altered carbon and nitrogen cycles in the acid sulfate soil. Future fertiliser and crop management will need to account for the changed nutrient cycling caused by saline water intrusion and climate change.

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.

Published online 26 September 2016

SR15284Multifractal analysis of soil hydraulic properties in arid areas

N. Pahlevan, M. R. Yazdani, A. A. Zolfaghari and M. Ghodrati

Multifractal analysis was used to determine the spatial variability of soil properties in arid land areas of Iran. The scaling patterns and structural heterogeneity of general and hydraulic soil properties measured across a transect were quantified. Additionally, the distribution of soil hydraulic properties was investigated.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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 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.

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 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.

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.

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).

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.

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