Effectiveness of crop straws, and swine manure in ameliorating acidic red soils: a laboratory study
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Crop straws and animal manure have the potential to ameliorate acidic soils, but their effectiveness and the mechanisms involved are not fully understood. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of two crop (maize and soybean) straws, swine manure, and their application rates on acidity changes in acidic red soils (Ferralic Cambisol) differing in initial pH.
Materials and methods
Two red soils were collected after 21 years of the (1) no fertilization history (CK soil, pH 5.46) and (2) receiving annual chemical nitrogen (N) fertilization (N soil, pH 4.18). The soils were incubated for 105 days at 25 °C after amending the crop straws or manure at 0, 5, 10, 20, and 40 g kg−1 (w/w), and examined for changes in pH, exchangeable acidity, N mineralization, and speciation in 2 M KCl extract as ammonium (NH4+) and nitrate plus nitrite (NO3− + NO2−).
Results and discussion
All three organic materials significantly decreased soil acidity (dominated by aluminum) as the application rate increased. Soybean straw was as effective (sometimes more effective) as swine manure in raising pH in both soils. Soybean straw and swine manure both significantly reduced exchangeable acidity at amendment rate as low as 10 g kg−1 in the highly acidic N soil, but swine manure was more effective in reducing the total acidity especially exchangeable aluminum (e.g., in the N soil from initial 5.79 to 0.50 cmol(+) kg−1 compared to 2.82 and 4.19 cmol(+) kg−1 by soybean straw and maize straw, respectively). Maize straw was less effective than soybean straw in affecting soil pH and the acidity. The exchangeable aluminum decreased at a rate of 4.48 cmol(+) kg−1 per pH unit increase for both straws compared to 6.25 cmol(+) kg−1 per pH unit from the manure. The NO3− + NO2− concentration in soil increased significantly for swine manure amendment, but decreased markedly for straw treatments. The high C/N ratio in the straws led to N immobilization and pH increase.
While swine manure continues to be effective for ameliorating soil acidity, crop straw amendment has also shown a good potential to ameliorate the acidity of the red soil. Thus, after harvest, straws should preferably not be removed from the field, but mixed with the soil to decelerate acidification. The long-term effect of straw return on soil acidity management warrants further determination under field conditions.
KeywordsAsh alkalinity Crop straw Exchangeable aluminum Manure Soil pH
This study was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41301309), National Basic Research Program (2014CB441001), Natural Key R&D Program (2016YFD0200301), National Key Research and Development Plan (2016YFD0200901-07), National Nonprofit Institute Research Grant of CAAS (IARRP-2014-10), and the UK-China Joint Centre for Sustainable Intensification in Agriculture (CSIA). We are very grateful to Mr. Tom Pflaum for his constructive comments and editing on the paper.
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