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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 56 Number 1 2018

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
pp. 1-18

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.

SR16264Quantifying individual and collective influences of soil properties on crop yield

Rebecca Whetton, Yifan Zhao and Abdul M. Mouazen
pp. 19-27

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.


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.

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

Dang Duy Minh, Ben Macdonald, Sören Warneke and Ian White
pp. 39-48

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.

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
pp. 49-58

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.

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
pp. 59-70

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.


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.

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
pp. 80-90

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.


A 5-year field study was conducted to evaluate the effect of tillage, crop establishment and residue management on soil biochemical changes, soil fertility and wheat yield in rice-wheat cropping systems. Zero tillage with residues retention produced was 6–10% higher yield than in conventional tillage and Zero tillage without residues retention. Substituting intensive tillage with ZT and residue retention improved soil enzymatic activity. Conservation agriculture practices have potential to improve soil health in rice-wheat system.


Soil quality and emissions of carbon dioxide from soil are determined largely by the decomposition of soil organic matter. In this 812-day incubation study of volcanic ash topsoils from oil palm plantations, we found that decomposition was influenced to similar extents by biochemical recalcitrance and physical protection. The results could help improve models used to predict how soil organic carbon content changes under changed management or climate.

Online Early

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

Published online 22 January 2018

SR17205Soil organic carbon retention more affected by altitude than texture in a forested mountain range in Brazil

Y. L. Zinn, A. B. Andrade, M. A. Araujo and R. Lal
 

Soil organic C (SOC) retention is affected by texture, but it is not known how this relation is affected by altitude. Sampling coarse- and fine-textured soils at two altitudes, we found that texture affected SOC only at lower altitudes (1,060 m). SOC retention at >1,200 m is thus marked by weaker interaction with soil minerals, and probably less stable.

Published online 18 December 2017

SR17010Perennials but not slope aspect affect the diversity of soil bacterial communities in the northern Negev Desert, Israel

Ahuva Vonshak, Menachem Y. Sklarz, Ann M. Hirsch and Osnat Gillor
 

In desert ecosystems shrubs are viewed as resource islands, oases of higher fertility in the barren landscape, supporting biota above and below the ground. While the aboveground diversity was extensively studied, little is known about the belowground communities. Therefore, communities under two dominant shrubs and in barren soil located in opposing slopes were studied, revealing that shrubs alone could be linked to changes in soil bacterial diversity and community composition.

Published online 07 December 2017

SR17081A simple numerical model to estimate water availability in saline soils

Mohammad Hossein Mohammadi and Mahnaz Khataar
 

Soil salinity decreases plant water uptake and crop yields in arid and semiarid regions. We develop an approach to estimate soil salinity after irrigation or precipitation events. Knowledge the influence of soil salinity on the plant water uptake will become useful in designing of irrigation scheme and field management to achieve more crops.

Published online 07 December 2017

SR17087Effects of pH and mineralisation on nitrification in a subtropical acid forest soil

Wei Zhao, Jin-bo Zhang, Christoph Müller and Zu-cong Cai
 

Few studies considered the effect of soil pH on nitrification at the microsite scale which is associated with mineralization. The aim of the research was to investigate how increasing pH affected mineralization and then nitrification in the subtropical acid forest soil. Results suggested that pH-induced increase in N mineralization provided more microsites surrounded with NH4+ substrate and favorable pH for the development of ammonia-oxidizing bacteria populations and their nitrifying activity. A good understanding the synergistic effects of soil pH and mineralization on nitrification will improve our knowledge about the effects of land management practices on the subtropical acid forest soils and underlying mechanisms.

Published online 29 November 2017

SR17214Potassium fertilisation with humic acid coated KCl in a sandy clay loam tropical soil

Ciro A. Rosolem, Danilo S. Almeida, Kassiano F. Rocha and Gustavo H. M. Bacco
 

Extensive areas with low clay soils will be converted to agriculture to meet global food demand, and K is prone to leaching in these soils. We compared a conventional K fertilizer with a fertilizer coated with humic substances, and showed that the protected fertilizer, although not avoiding K leaching, is an adequate fertilizer in low clay soils with very low K content.

Published online 29 November 2017

SR17029Role of soil quality in declining rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) tea yields in the Clanwilliam area, South Africa

Jacobus F. N. Smith, Alfred Botha and Ailsa G. Hardie
 

Global demand for rooibos tea is increasing whereas yields are decreasing in the primary production area of Clanwilliam, South Africa. The aim of this study was to investigate soil quality and plant properties in cultivated rooibos plantations of various ages (1–60 years) and adjacent, wild rooibos stands in pristine fynbos. Long-term rooibos production resulted in declines in soil organic matter, basic cations and accumulation of phosphorus which correlated with rooibos yield declines and suppressed mycorrhizal colonization.


Liming and trash blanket are commonly used for remediating soil acidity and managing trash residues. This study has shown that liming improves soil microbial growth, but trash blanket placement increases labile carbon and nitrogen availability in a sugarcane soil of subtropical Australia.

Published online 10 November 2017

SR17093Changes in soil stress during repeated wheeling: A comparison of measured and simulated values

Mojtaba Naderi-Boldaji, Ali Kazemzadeh, Abbas Hemmat, Sajad Rostami and Thomas Keller
 

Changes in soil stress with repeated wheeling is an area that has not been effectively investigated. It was hypothesized that variations in rut depth resulting in reduction of distance between the soil-tire interface and stress transducer is the potential reason for stress variations with repeated wheeling which was supported with experimental measurements and analytical simulations. However, variations in soil stress with repeated wheeling must have also contributed to stress changes with repeated wheeling.

Published online 02 November 2017

SR17157Review and outlook for agromineral research in agriculture and climate mitigation

Guanru Zhang, Jinting Kang, Tianxing Wang and Chen Zhu
 

Agrominerals are naturally occurring rocks and minerals that can be used for re-fertilising soils exhausted of macro- and micro-nutrients. Heightened concerns for limited world P and K resources and the potential for applying a large amount of agrominerals to mitigate global warming has renewed interest of the subject. This review highlights the state of knowledge and potential future directions.


Increased atmospheric nitrogen (N) deposition caused by human activities has potentially important effects on ecosystem carbon (C) dynamics. The present study investigated the differential effects of N deposition on oxidisable soil organic carbon (SOC) and its four fractions with different labilities in plant rhizospheric and bulk soils, and found that SOC in the rhizosphere became more recalcitrant at low levels (N2.8–N5.6) of N addition, but addition of high levels (N11.2–N44.8) of N resulted in accumulation of labile C that was less stable against chemical and biological degradation. This study provides a theoretical basis for increasing long-term soil C storage and the stabilising soil C pool in a changing global environment.

Published online 27 October 2017

SR16157Traditional manual tillage significantly affects soil redistribution and CO2 emission in agricultural plots on the Loess Plateau

Yan Geng, Hanqing Yu, Yong Li, Mahbubul Tarafder, Guanglong Tian and Adrian Chappell
 

Soil redistribution induced by traditional manual tillage can potentially affect the soil carbon cycle, but few studies have quantified soil CO2 emission under different manual tillage practices. The present study demonstrated that soil CO2 emission was reduced upslope but enhanced downslope of the tilled slopes. The results imply that subsistence farming on steep slopes using hand tools may have a large effect on regional C balance and estimates of C budgets.

Published online 27 October 2017

SR16343Fabric of soil derived from parna and the riddle of transported pellets

Stephen R. Cattle and Carol M. S. Smith
 

ToC Abstract: ‘Parna’ the clayey loess of southeastern Australia, is assumed to have been transported by wind as fine sand- and silt-sized pellets, but little direct evidence of such pellets has been shown. The micromorphological and granulometric properties of several soils derived from parna have been investigated. In upper (younger) subsoils derived from parna, prolate fine sand-sized pellets are identifiable and have a distinctive mosaic-speckled b-fabric. However, in lower subsoils derived from older parna deposits, abundant illuviation features and a lack of identifiable pellets suggest that weathering and various pedologic processes have destroyed them.


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 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.

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