Journal of Soils and Sediments

, Volume 18, Issue 9, pp 2893–2903 | Cite as

Effectiveness of crop straws, and swine manure in ameliorating acidic red soils: a laboratory study

  • Zejiang Cai
  • Minggang XuEmail author
  • Boren Wang
  • Lu Zhang
  • Shilin Wen
  • Suduan Gao
Soils, Sec 1 • Soil Organic Matter Dynamics and Nutrient Cycling • Research Article



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.


Ash 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.


  1. Abera G, Wolde-meskel E, Bakken LR (2012) Carbon and nitrogen mineralization dynamics in different soils of the tropics amended with legume residues and contrasting soil moisture contents. Biol Fertil Soils 48:51–66CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Barak P, Jobe BO, Krueger AR, Petersen LA, Laird DA (1997) Effects of long-term soil acidification due to nitrogen fertilizer inputs in Wisconsin. Plant Soil 197:61–69CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bertsch PM, Bloom PR (1996) Soil pH and soil acidity. In: Sparks DL (ed) Methods of soil analysis. Part 3. Chemical methods, SSSA book series, vol 5. ASA and SSSA, Madison, pp 517–576Google Scholar
  4. Bolan NS, Hedley MJ (2003) Role of carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur cycles in soil acidification. In: Rengel Z (ed) Handbook of soil acidity. Marcel Dekker, New York, pp 29–55Google Scholar
  5. Butterly CR, Kaudala BJ, Baldock JA, Tang C (2011) Contribution of soluble and insoluble fractions of agricultural residues to short-term pH changes. Eur J Soil Sci 62:718–727CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Butterly CR, Baldock JA, Tang C (2013) The contribution of crop residues to changes in soil pH under field conditions. Plant Soil 366:185–198CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cai Z, Wang B, Xu M, Zhang H, Zhang L, Gao S (2014) Nitrification and acidification from urea application in red soil (Ferralic Cambisol) after different long-term fertilization treatments. J Soils Sediments 14:1526–1536CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cai Z, Wang B, Xu M, Zhang H, He X, Zhang L, Gao S (2015) Intensified soil acidification from chemical N fertilization and prevention by manure in an 18-year field experiment in the red soil of southern China. J Soils Sediments 15:260–270CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cheng Y, Wang J, Wang J, Chang SX, Wang S (2017) The quality and quantity of exogenous organic carbon input control microbial NO3 immobilization: a meta-analysis. Soil Biol Biochem 115:357–363CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chien SH, Gearhart MM, Collamer DJ (2008) The effect of different ammonical nitrogen sources on soil acidification. Soil Sci 173(8):544–551CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. De Vries W, Breeuwsma A (1987) The relation between soil acidification and element cycling. Water Air Soil Poll 35(3):293–310CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. De Wit HA, Kotowski M, Mulder J (1999) Modeling aluminum and organic matter solubility in the forest floor using WHAM. Soil Sci Soc Am J 63:1141–1148CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Fujii K, Hayakawa C, Panitkasate T, Maskhao I, Funakawa S, Kosaki T, Nawata E (2017) Acidification and buffering mechanisms of tropical sandy soil in Northeast Thailand. Soil Till Res 165:80–87CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Guo J, Liu X, Zhang Y, Shen J, Han W, Zhang W, Christie P, Goulding KWT, Vitousek PM, Zhang F (2010) Significant acidification in major Chinese croplands. Science 327:1008–1010CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Helyar KR, Porter WM (1989) Soil acidification, its measurement and the processes involved. In: Robson AD (ed) Soil acidity and plant growth. Academic Press, Sydney, pp 61–102CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Jiang RF (1999a) Methods of soil nitrogen and sulfur. In: Bao SD (ed) Analysis of soil agrochemistry, 3rd edn. China Agriculture Press, Beijing, pp 39–69Google Scholar
  17. Jiang RF (1999b) Cation-exchange capacity. In: Bao SD (ed) Analysis of soil agrochemistry, 3rd edn. China Agriculture Press, Beijing, pp 152–177Google Scholar
  18. Kumar K, Goh KM (2003) Nitrogen release from crop residues and organic amendments as affected by biochemical composition. Commun Soil Sci Plant Anal 34:2441–2460CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Li W, Johnson CE (2016) Relationships among pH, aluminum solubility and aluminum complexation with organic matter in acid forest soils of the northeastern United States. Geoderma 271:234–242CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Mulvaney RL (1996) Nitrogen-inorganic forms. In: Sparks DL (ed) Methods of soil analysis. Part 3. Chemical methods, SSSA book series 5. ASA and SSSA, Madison, pp 1123–1184Google Scholar
  21. Naramabuye FX, Haynes RJ, Modi AT (2008) Cattle manure and grass residues as liming materials in a semi-subsistence farming system. Agric Ecosyst Environ 124:136–141CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Ritchie GSP (1994) Role of dissolution and precipitation of minerals in controlling soluble aluminum in acid soils. Adv Agron 53:47–83CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Rukshana F, Butterly CR, Baldock JA, Tang C (2011) Model organic compounds differ in their effects on pH changes of two soils differing in initial pH. Biol Fert Soils 47(1):51–62CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Rutkowska B, Szulc W, Hoch M, Spychaj-Fabisiak E (2015) Forms of Al in soil and soil solution in a long-term fertilizer application experiment. Soil Use Manag 31:114–120CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Sakala GM, Rowell DL, Pilbeam CJ (2004) Acid–base reactions between an acidic soil and plant residues. Geoderma 123:219–232CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Sun R, Zhang X, Guo X, Wang D, Chu H (2015) Bacterial diversity in soils subjected to long-term chemical fertilization can be more stably maintained with the addition of livestock manure than wheat straw. Soil Biol Biochem 88:9–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Tang C, Rengel Z (2003) Role of plant cation/anion uptake ratio in soil acidification. In: Rengel Z et al (eds) Handbook of soil acidity. Marcel Dekker, New York, pp 57–81Google Scholar
  28. Tang C, Yu Q (1999) Impact of chemical composition of legume residues and initial soil pH on pH change of a soil after residue incorporation. Plant Soil 215:29–38CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Tian D, Niu S (2015) A global analysis of soil acidification caused by nitrogen addition. Environ Res Lett 10.
  30. Vanlauwe B, Nwoke OC, Sanginga N, Merckx R (1996) Impact of residue quality on the C and N mineralization of leaf and root residues of three agroforestry species. Plant Soil 183(2):221–231CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Vanzolini JI, Galantini JA, Martínez JM, Suñer L (2017) Changes in soil pH and phosphorus availability during decomposition of cover crop residues. Arch Agron Soil Sci 63(13):1864–1874CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Vieira FCB, He ZL, Bayer C, Stoffella PJ, Baligar VC (2008) Organic amendment effects on the transformation and fractionation of aluminum in acidic sandy soil. Commun Soil Sci Plant Anal 39:2678–2694CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Wang N, Li J, Xu R (2009) Use of agricultural by-products to study the pH effects in an acid tea garden soil. Soil Use Manag 25:128–132CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Wang L, Butterly CR, Tian W, Herath HMSK, Xi Y, Zhang J, Xiao X (2016) Effects of fertilization practices on aluminum fractions and species in a wheat soil. J Soils Sediments 16:1933–1943CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Wen Y, Xiao J, Li H, Shen Q, Ran W, Zhou Q, Yu G (2014) Long-term fertilization practices alter aluminum fractions and coordinate state in soil colloids. Soil Sci Soc Am J 78:2083–2089CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Wesselink LG, Van Breemen N, Mulder J, Janssen PH (1996) A simple model of soil organic matter complexation to predict the solubility of aluminum in acid forest soils. Eur J Soil Sci 47:373–384CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Xiao K, Xu J, Tang C, Zhang J, Brookes PC (2013) Differences in carbon and nitrogen mineralization in soils of differing initial pH induced by electrokinesis and receiving crop residue amendments. Soil Biol Biochem 67:70–84CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Xu R, Coventry DR (2003) Soil pH changes associated with lupin and wheat plant materials incorporated in a red-brown earth soil. Plant Soil 250:113–119CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Xu J, Tang C, Chen Z (2006) The role of plant residues in pH change of acid soils differing in initial pH. Soil Biol Biochem 38:709–719CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Yan F, Schubert S, Mengel K (1996) Soil pH increase due to biological decarboxylation of organic anions. Soil Biol Biochem 28:617–624CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Zeng M, de Vries W, Bonten LTC, Zhu Q, Hao T, Liu X, Xu M, Shi X, Zhang F, Shen J (2017) Model-based analysis of the long-term effects of fertilization management on cropland soil acidification. Environ Sci Technol 51:3843–3851CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Zhu Q, de Vries W, Liu X, Hao T, Zeng M, Shen J, Zhang F (2018) Enhanced acidification in Chinese croplands as derived from element budgets in the period 1980–2010. Sci Total Environ 618:1497–1505CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zejiang Cai
    • 1
    • 2
  • Minggang Xu
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Boren Wang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Lu Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Shilin Wen
    • 1
    • 2
  • Suduan Gao
    • 3
  1. 1.National Engineering Laboratory for Improving Quality of Arable Land, Institute of Agricultural Resources and Regional PlanningChinese Academy of Agricultural SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.Qiyang Agro-ecosystem of National Field Experimental StationHunanChina
  3. 3.USDA Agricultural Research Service, Water Management ResearchParlierUSA

Personalised recommendations