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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 55 Number 7 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
pp. 617-629

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.


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.

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
pp. 640-648

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.


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.

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
pp. 657-669

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.


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.

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
pp. 682-691

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.


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.


Soil disturbance following tillage, which is a major issue in crop production, could be mediated by poultry manure application, thereby improving crop yield. Soil physical properties in tilled soil could be improved by combined application of poultry manure and NPK fertiliser; however, high rate of poultry manure under zero tillage should be avoided. To ensure good soil productivity and sustainable maze production, minimum tillage practices and joint application of organic and inorganic fertilisers are recommended.


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.

Online Early

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


Managing nitrogen supply to better match crop demand and reduce losses will be an important goal under future predicted elevated carbon dioxide conditions. Use of a nitrification inhibitor in a cereal–legume rotation may help to increase grain nitrogen concentration, increase the mobilisation of nitrogen towards the grain under elevated carbon dioxide, and may also help to compensate for decreases in grain copper concentration under elevated carbon dioxide. However, use of a nitrification inhibitor may not provide additional benefits for productivity or efficiency of nitrogen utilisation.

Published online 13 October 2017

SR17039Evidence for soil carbon enhancement through deeper mouldboard ploughing at pasture renovation on a Typic Fragiaqualf

R. Calvelo Pereira, M. J. Hedley, M. Camps Arbestain, P. Bishop, K. E. Enongene and I. J. J. Otene
 

Permanent pastures require periodic renewal (cultivation and re-sowing) to maintain their productive potential, which involves a short-term C loss. Normal cultivation (ploughing or discing) often involves only the top 10–15 cm, or less, of pasture soils. Deeper ploughing (below 20 cm; inversion tillage) at the time of renewing a permanent ryegrass plus clover-based pasture growing on an imperfectly drained Typic Fragiaqualf soil resulted in an overall increase in soil C mass to approximately 30 cm of 18%, or 13.9 Mg C ha–1, compared with not undertaking the re-grassing. This gain in soil C may be temporary but, over a period of 4 years, it significantly increased the net residence time of C in soil related to the soil inversion.

Published online 13 October 2017

SR17058Digital mapping of soil erodibility for water erosion in New South Wales, Australia

Xihua Yang, Jonathan Gray, Greg Chapman, Qinggaozi Zhu, Mitch Tulau and Sally McInnes-Clarke
 

We assessed eight empirical methods on soil erodibility (K-factor) estimation and produced a harmonised high-resolution K-factor map for the entire state of NSW with improvements by using the recent digital soil maps (DSMs) and soil information. The modelled erodibility values were validated with field plots and further used along with other RUSLE factors to assess erosion risk which in turn provides useful information for erosion control and management.

Published online 19 September 2017

SR16308Waterlogging and soil reduction affect the amount and apparent molecular weight distribution of dissolved organic matter in wetland soil: a laboratory study

Asmaa Rouwane, Malgorzata Grybos, Isabelle Bourven, Marion Rabiet and Gilles Guibaud
 

Natural organic matter could be a vector by which pollutants enter aquatic systems. The present study characterised the dissolved organic matter (DOM) released during soil waterlogging and under progressive reducing conditions. The results indicate high DOM release after oxygen depletion induced by soil waterlogging and show DOM enrichment with polar functional groups under iron-reducing conditions. These changes in DOM composition could have important consequences on the solubility and mobility of metals in soil.

Published online 12 September 2017

SR17050Fluxes of greenhouse gases from incubated soils using different lid-closure times

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

Laboratory incubations and field measurements have provided valuable information on the production of green-house gases. However, information about the effects of pre-incubation and closure time on soil-induced gas emissions is currently limited. Our findings showed that different closure times and pre-incubation times altered gas emissions from incubated soils. A standardised procedure to investigate gas fluxes is needed for application to other studied soils.

Published online 12 September 2017

SR17117Soil mechanical stresses in high wheel load agricultural field traffic: a case study

Mathieu Lamandé and Per Schjønning
 

Subsoil compaction is a serious threat to soil functions. In this study we quantified the vertical stresses in the tyre–soil contact area and at 0.3, 0.6 and 0.9 m depths of a sandy loam at field capacity. The machinery tested was a tractor–trailer system for slurry application with wheel loads up to 70 kN. The maximum stress measured at 0.3, 0.6 and 0.9 m depths was approximately 300, 100 and 45 kPa respectively. Previous studies in the experimental plots have documented persistent effects on soil properties and functions to a depth of at least 0.7 m.

Published online 11 September 2017

SR17091Effects of sugar cane bagasse biochar and spent mushroom compost on phosphorus fractionation in calcareous soils

Arzhang Fathi Gerdelidani and Hossein Mirseyed Hosseini
 

The effects of sugar cane bagasse biochar and spent mushroom compost (SMC) on different phosphorus fractions and plant-available phosphorus was studied in three calcareous soils. The different P fractions were evaluated in the soil such. Application of SMC significantly increased Ca2-P in all soils compared with control, and had an increasing trend over time, but biochar only increased Ca2-P significantly in sandy loam soil. Application of SMC can enhance plant-available P and affect P fractions and distribution, with the degree of the increase being soil specific. In contrast, the effects of biochar on P availability, fractions and distribution need more time to become apparent.

Published online 05 September 2017

SR16262Soil properties and organic matter quality in relation to climate and vegetation in southern Indian tropical ecosystems

Shanmugam Mani, Agustín Merino, Felipe García-Oliva, Jean Riotte and Raman Sukumar
 

Soil organic matter (SOM) plays a key role in maintaining soil productivity but directly altered by climate. The combinations of two SOM quality techniques (DSC-TG analysis and density fractionation) showed that the SOM content was mainly limited by annual precipitation and low clay content especially in the dry forest soils. These techniques provided better characterisation of SOM quality which determines C-sequestration capacity of the Mudumalai tropical forest soils.

Published online 04 September 2017

SR16356Ecological niche differentiation of ammonia-oxidising archaea and bacteria in acidic soils due to land use change

Shenyan Dai, Qian Liu, Jun Zhao and Jinbo Zhang
 

Land use pattern regulates the relative contribution of ammonia-oxidising archaea (AOA) and ammonia-oxidising bacteria (AOB) to ammonia oxidation in acidic soils. We found that AOA played the predominant role in ammonia oxidation in acidic forest and paddy soils, whereas AOB mainly regulated the ammonia oxidation in acidic upland agricultural soils. Thus, the contributor of ammonia oxidation in acidic soils can be manipulated via regulation of the soil moisture content.

Published online 25 August 2017

SR17001Effect of 10 years of biofertiliser use on soil quality and rice yield on an Inceptisol in Assam, India

Smrita Buragohain, Banashree Sarma, Dhruba J. Nath, Nirmali Gogoi, Ram S. Meena and Rattan Lal
 

In this study, responses of rice yield and soil physicochemical and biological health were investigated after application of biofertiliser and enriched biocompost, where significant increases in rice yield and improved soil organic carbon, soil nutrients and biological health were observed. Incorporation of biofertiliser and biocompost can substitute for 75% of inorganic N and P fertilisers. Fraction 2 (labile carbon) of total organic carbon, total P, available K, microbial biomass carbon and phosphate-solubilising bacteria were identified as indicators of soil quality to assess the efficacy of biofertiliser and biocompost incorporation in Inceptisols under rice cultivation.

Published online 25 August 2017

SR17036Drip irrigation with film covering improves soil enzymes and muskmelon growth in the greenhouse

Jingwei Wang, Wenquan Niu, Miles Dyck, Mingzhi Zhang and Yuan Li
 

This study investigated responses of soil enzyme activity, soil micro-organisms, muskmelon root growth and muskmelon fruit yield and quality to different levels of film covering, drip pipe density and different lower limits of irrigation in a greenhouse experiment. The results showed that, half film covering, irrigation at 80% field capacity and one pipe for two rows improved the root-zone soil environment, muskmelons yield and fruit quality in the greenhouse.

Published online 20 July 2017

SR16264Quantifying individual and collective influences of soil properties on crop yield

Rebecca Whetton, Yifan Zhao and Abdul M. Mouazen
 

Accurate crop management at a field level requires understanding and quantification of the relationships between soil properties and crop yield. The present paper discusses the successful implementation of an innovative non-linear parametric modelling approach for quantification of the agronomic influences of individual and interaction between pairs of soil properties on wheat yield. The quantification of the soil-related yield-limiting factors is an important step towards successful precision application for farm inputs.

Published online 28 June 2017

SR16183Hydrogeological Landscapes framework: a biophysical approach to landscape characterisation and salinity hazard assessment

C. L. Moore, B. R. Jenkins, A. L. Cowood, A. Nicholson, R. Muller, A. Wooldridge, W. Cook, J. R. Wilford, M. Littleboy, M. Winkler and K. Harvey
 

The Hydrogeological Landscape (HGL) framework provides a structure for understanding how salinity manifests in the landscape, how differences in salinity are expressed across the landscape and how salinity may best be managed. This is the first approach to specifically address all three manifestations of salinity: land salinity, in-stream salt load and in-stream salt concentration. The HGL framework is an expert system that integrates the spatial variability of landscape characteristics and salinity processes to produce a salinity hazard assessment for any given area.

Published online 28 June 2017

SR17063Soil chemical management drives structural degradation of Oxisols under a no-till cropping system

Márcio R. Nunes, Alvaro P. da Silva, José E. Denardin, Neyde F. B. Giarola, Carlos M. P. Vaz, Harold M. van Es and Anderson R. da Silva
 

Soil structural degradation reduces the effectiveness of no-till as a sustainable soil management approach in crop production systems. Both chemical and biological factors may reduce the structural stability of the Oxisols and thereby exacerbate the soil physical degradation under no-till. The structural degradation of Oxisols cultivated under no-till, predominantly in the subsurface layer, is aggravated by the accumulation of amendments and fertilisers in the surface soil and reduced levels of organic matter.

Published online 23 June 2017

SR16182Carbon and nitrogen molecular composition of soil organic matter fractions resistant to oxidation

Katherine Heckman, Dorisel Torres, Christopher Swanston and Johannes Lehmann
 

Examination of oxidative-resistant soil organic matter from two Australian soils that are burnt frequently indicated that organics with the longest mean residence time were not composed solely of pyrogenic materials. Fire fuel type, grass vs trees, did not have a significant effect on oxidative-resistant soil organic matter mean residence time or character.

Published online 16 June 2017

SR16200Comparative effects of crop residue incorporation and inorganic potassium fertilisation on apparent potassium balance and soil potassium pools under a wheat–cotton system

Ning Sui, Chaoran Yu, Guanglei Song, Fan Zhang, Ruixian Liu, Changqin Yang, Yali Meng and Zhiguo Zhou
 

Long-term continuous cropping with unbalanced fertilisation has led to the serious depletion of available soil K pools and resulted in a negative K balance. In a 3-year field experiment, crop residue incorporation and inorganic K fertilisation had similar effects on soil K pools and balance depending on initial soil K level and actual K input. Consecutive crop residue incorporation could partly replace inorganic K fertiliser to increase K release and crop K uptake, and decrease K deficit, and so decreasing K fertilisation is feasible.

Published online 15 June 2017

SR16247Surface lime and silicate application and crop production system effects on physical characteristics of a Brazilian Oxisol

G. S. A. Castro, C. A. C. Crusciol, C. A. Rosolem, J. C. Calonego and K. R. Brye
 

Soil acidity amelioration and cropping systems affect soil physics, but there are no studies on how these factors interact. We studied how crop rotations under no-till and soil acidity amelioration affect soil physics and found that they are improved by soybean–maize–rice rotation with a forage crop in the off-season when soil acidity is ameliorated. Crop rotation is a valuable tool in managing physical properties of weathered, organic matter-depleted, acidic Oxisols and contribute in sustaining long-term crop productivity in these soils.

Published online 09 June 2017

SR16305Parent material and climate affect soil organic carbon fractions under pastures in south-eastern Australia

Susan E. Orgill, Jason R. Condon, Mark K. Conyers, Stephen G. Morris, Brian W. Murphy and Richard S. B. Greene
 

Research indicates that climate and inherent soil properties may have a greater effect on soil organic carbon (OC) than management practices. Few studies have investigated the effect of parent material on soil OC; thus, the present study is unique in the Australian context and clearly shows the contrasting effects of geology on the potential for sequestering C in soil. Ensuring adequate soil nutrition may increase OC stocks; however, the large stock of OC under pastures and the dominating effects of climate and parent material may mean that modest increases in soil OC due to management go undetected.

Published online 01 June 2017

SR16060Tree-based techniques to predict soil units

H. S. K. Pinheiro, P. R. Owens, L. H. C. Anjos, W. Carvalho Júnior and C. S. Chagas
 

A new approach to improve soil survey methods can be achieved by using geotechnologies, such as remote sensing data and landscape modelling. Based on the integration of different data types in a geographic information system, the digital soil mapping techniques can address accuracy and scale issues, which are commonly problems in conventional soil surveys. By using terrain covariates related to soil genesis and development, the products generated provide greater information about soil mapping units and environmental relationships.

Published online 23 May 2017

SR17011Investigating the effect of vetiver and polyacrylamide on runoff, sediment load and cumulative water infiltration

Elham Amiri, Hojat Emami, Mohammad R. Mosaddeghi and Ali R. Astaraei
 

Soil erosion is one of the most serious problems affecting the environment, natural resources and agriculture and threatening soil resources. The simultaneous effect of PAM and bioengineering techniques was studied under field conditions to control soil erosion and runoff. Vetiver may sufficiently decrease soil erosion and PAM is not necessary to control the runoff and soil erosion where vetiver is applied.

Published online 11 May 2017

SR16310Sugar cane straw left in the field during harvest: decomposition dynamics and composition changes

José G. de A. Sousa, Maurício R. Cherubin, Carlos E. P. Cerri, Carlos C. Cerri and Brigitte J. Feigl
 

Collecting sugarcane straw may be a solution to increase bioenergy (cellulosic ethanol and bioelectricity) production in Brazil to meet growing domestic and international demands. Evaluating the straw decomposition dynamic is essential to understand the potential effects of straw removal and management practices on the soil and plant growth. The present study revealed that sustainable straw removal associated with optimum management practices (organic amendments and no-till) decreased the straw decomposition rate, thereby favouring soil conservation in sugar cane fields in Brazil.

Published online 04 May 2017

SR16267Experimental study of the electrokinetic behaviour of kaolinite–smectite mixtures

M. Ben Salah, H. Souli, P. Dubujet, M. Hattab and M. Trabelsi Ayadi
 

The influence of macroscopic properties of kaolinite–smectite mixture on the electrokinetic behaviour is not well understood. The aim of this paper is to study the relationship between the smectite percentage and macroscopic properties and the electrokinetic behaviours of mixtures. The results show that smectite amounts of up to 25% change both the macroscopic properties and electrokinetic behaviours. This study allows optimisation of the electrokinetic method for application in the electroconsolidation of clay soils.

Published online 03 May 2017

SR16227Estimating organic carbon content of soil in Papua New Guinea using infrared spectroscopy

Ryan Orr, Anna V. McBeath, Wouter I. J. Dieleman, Michael I. Bird and Paul N. Nelson
 

The absorption of parts of the non-visible light spectrum has been used to identify differences in soil carbon composition, important for farming, environmental management, and carbon dioxide emissions modelling. The statistical model and methods generated can be used to improve future practices in Papua New Guinea. This analysis can now be applied to the unique soils of Papua New Guinea and broaden understanding of tropical soil composition.

Published online 27 April 2017

SR16131Dynamics of soil organic matter in a cultivated chronosequence in the Cerrado (Minas Gerais, Brazil)

Thalita M. Resende, Vania Rosolen, Martial Bernoux, Marcelo Z. Moreira, Fabiano T. d. Conceição and José S. Govone
 

Soil organic matter (SOM) can be used to evaluate ecosystem services. Understanding the changes in SOM in Brazilian savanna as a result of land use and management can provide information on soil degradation. The present findings revealed that the stock of SOM diminished in the topsoil under cultivated pastures. However, at deeper layers, SOM dynamics were influenced by the paleoclimatic history responsible for vegetation changes. This study highlights the importance of SOM to link environmental and human dynamics in tropical savanna.

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