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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 4 2017


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.

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
pp. 318-331

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.

SR16218Suboptimal fertilisation compromises soil physical properties of a hard-setting sandy loam

Johannes Lund Jensen, Per Schjønning, Bent T. Christensen and Lars Juhl Munkholm
pp. 332-340

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.


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.

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
pp. 354-362

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.


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.

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
pp. 376-388

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.


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.

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
pp. 401-411

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.

Online Early

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


NBudget is a Microsoft (Armonk, NY, USA) Excel-based decision support tool developed primarily to assist farmers and/or advisors in Australia’s northern grains region manage N. It does not rely on soil testing; instead, it uses simple paddock descriptions and crop history plus rule-of-thumb values and stand-alone or linked algorithms describing, among other things, legume N2 fixation and rates of mineralisation of background soil organic N and fresh residue N. The tool accurately predicted sowing soil nitrate levels but not when the soil was flooded or heavily waterlogged.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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