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Journal of Arid Land

Article Title

Changes in aggregate-associated organic carbon and nitrogen after 27 years of fertilization in a dryland alfalfa grassland on the Loess Plateau of China

Abstract

Changes in the distribution of soil aggregate sizes and concentrations of aggregate-associated organic carbon (OC) and nitrogen (N) in response to the fertilization of grasslands are not well understood. Understanding these changes is essential to the sustainable development of artificial grasslands. For understanding these changes, we collected soil samples at 0–20 and 20–40 cm depths from a semi-arid artificial alfalfa grassland after 27 years of applications of phosphorus (P) and nitrogen+phosphorus+manure (NPM) fertilizers on the Loess Plateau of China. The distribution of aggregate sizes and the concentrations and stocks of OC and N in total soils were determined. The results showed that NPM treatment significantly increased the proportions of >2.0 mm and 2.0–0.25 mm size fractions, the mean geometric diameter (MGD) and the mean weight diameter (MWD) in the 0–20 cm layer. Phosphorous fertilizer significantly increased the proportion of >2.0 mm size fractions, the MGD and the MWD in the 0–20 cm layer. Long-term application of fertilization (P and NPM) resulted in the accumulation of OC and N in soil aggregates. The largest changes in aggregate-associated OC and N in the 0–20 cm layer were found at the NPM treatment, whereas the largest changes in the 20–40 cm layer were found at the P treatment. The results suggest that long-term fertilization in the grassland leads to the accumulation of OC and N in the coarse size fractions and the redistribution of OC and N from fine size fractions to coarse size fractions.

Keywords

alfalfa grassland; long-term fertilization; nitrogen; organic carbon; semi-arid Loess Plateau

First Page

429

Last Page

437

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