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01.07.2014 | Original Article | Ausgabe 1/2014

Environmental Earth Sciences 1/2014

Spatial heterogeneity of soil organic matter and soil total nitrogen in a Mollisol watershed of Northeast China

Zeitschrift:
Environmental Earth Sciences > Ausgabe 1/2014
Autoren:
Shaoliang Zhang, Xingyi Zhang, Zhihua Liu, Yankun Sun, Wei Liu, Lin Dai, Shicong Fu

Abstract

The spatial heterogeneity of soil nutrients influences crop yield and the environment. Previous research has focused mainly on the surface layer, with little research being carried out on the deep soil layers, where high root density is highly related to crop growth. In the study, 610 soil samples were collected from 122 soil profiles (0–60 cm) in a random-sample method. Both geostatistics and traditional statistics were used to describe the spatial variability of soil organic matter (SOM) and total nitrogen (TN) deeper in the soil profile (0–60 cm) with high root density from a typical Mollisol watershed of Northeast China. Also, the SOM and TN in farmland and forest (field returned to forest over 10 years) areas was compared. The spatial autocorrelations of SOM at 0–50 cm depth and TN at 30–60 cm depth were strong, and were mainly influenced by structural factors. Compared to farmland, SOM and TN were typically lower in the 0–30 cm depth of the forest areas, while they were higher in the 30–60 cm depth. As well, both SOM and TN decreased from the 0–20 cm layer to the 30–40 cm layer, and then discontinues, while they continuously decreased with increasing soil depth in the farmland. SOM and TN were typically higher at the gently sloped summit of the watershed and part of the bottom of the slope than at mid-slope positions at the 0–30 cm depth. SOM and TN were lower on the back slope at the 30–60 cm depth, but were higher at the bottom of the slope. Also, the spatial distribution of the carbon storage and nitrogen storage were all highest at the bottom of the slope and part of the summit, while they were lowest in most of back slope in depth of 0–60 cm, and mainly caused by soil loss and deposition. SOM at 0–60 cm and TN at 0–40 cm greater than the sufficiency level for crop growth (3.7–79.2 and 0.09–3.09 g kg−1, respectively) covered 99 % of the total area, yet for TN, over 35 % of the total area was less than the insufficiency level at the 40–60 cm depth. Generally, accurately predicting SOM and TN is nearly impossible when based only on soil loss by water, although the fact that variability is influenced by elevation, soil loss, deposition and steepness, was shown in this research. Nitrogen fertilizer and manure application were needed, especially in conjunction with conservation tillage in special conditions and specific areas such as the back slope, where soil loss was severe and the deep soil that lacked TN was exposed at the surface.

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