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Journal of Arid Land

Abstract

Land use change significantly influences soil properties. There is little information available on the long-term effects of post-reclamation from grassland to cropland on soil properties. We compared soil carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) storage and related soil properties in a 50-year cultivation chronosequence of grassland in the agro-pastoral ecotone of Inner Mongolia. Field surveys on land use changes during the period of 1955–2002 were conducted to build a chronosequence of cropland of different ages since the conversion from grassland. The results showed that soil C and N storage, soil texture, and soil nutrient contents varied with land use types and cropland ages (P<0.01). In the 0–30 cm soil layer, the soil organic carbon (SOC) density was significantly lower in the croplands (3.28 kg C/m2 for C50 soil) than in the grasslands (6.32 kg C/m2). After 5, 10, 15, 20, 35, and 50 years of crop planting (years since the onset of cultivation), the SOC losses were 17%, 12%, 19%, 47%, 46%, and 48%, respectively, compared with the grasslands. The soil total nitrogen (TN) density of the grasslands was 65 g N/m2, and TN density of the cropland soil was 35 g N/m2 after 50 years of crop planting. Both the SOC and TN densities could be quantitatively determined by a negative exponential function of cropland age (P<0.0001, R2=0.8528; P<0.0001, R2=0.9637). The dissolved organic carbon (DOC) content, soil available potassium (AK) content, clay content, and pH value were decreased; and the soil bulk density and sand content were increased since the conversion of grassland into cropland during the 50-year period. Our results show soil nutrients were higher in grassland than in cropland. The conversion of grasslands to croplands induced a loss of soil C storage and changes of related soil properties. The reclamation time of cultivated soil (cropland age) had significant effects on soil properties in the study area.

First Page

420

Last Page

430

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