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Effects of animal manure and mineral fertilizer on the total carbon and nitrogen contents of soil size fractions

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Soil was sampled in autumn 1984 in the 132 field (sandy loam soil) of the Askov long-term experiments (started in 1894) and fractionated according to particle size using ultrasonic dispersion and sedimentation in water. The unmanured plot and plots given equivalent amounts of N (1923–1984 annual average, 121 kg N/ha) in either animal manure or mineral fertilizer were sampled to a depth of 15 cm, fractionated and analysed for C and N. Mineral fertilizer and animal manure increased the C and N content of whole soil, clay (<2 μm) and silt (2–20 μm) size fractions relative to unmanured samples, while the C content of the sand size fractions (fine sand 1, 20–63 μm; fine sand 2, 63–200 μm; coarse sand, 200–2000 μm) was less affected. Clay contained 58% and 65°70 of the soil C and N, respectively. Corresponding values for silt were 30% and 26%, while sand accounted for 10% of the soil C. Fertilization did not influence this distribution pattern. The C : N ratio of the silt organic matter (14.3) was higher and that of clay (10.6) lower than whole-soil C:N ratios (12.0). Fertilization did not influence clay and silt C : N ratios. Animal manure caused similar relative increases in the organic matter content of clay and silt size fractions (36%). In contrast, mineral fertilizer only increased the organic matter content of silt by 21% and that of clay by 14%.

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Christensen, B.T. Effects of animal manure and mineral fertilizer on the total carbon and nitrogen contents of soil size fractions. Biol Fert Soils 5, 304–307 (1988).

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Key words

  • Fertilization
  • Soil organic matter
  • Soil particle size fractions
  • Animal manure
  • Total carbon and nitrogen contents