Plant and Soil

, Volume 402, Issue 1–2, pp 211–219 | Cite as

Sulfur dynamics in sub-tropical soils of Australia as influenced by long-term cultivation

  • Peter M. Kopittke
  • Ram C. Dalal
  • Neal W. Menzies
Regular Article


Background and aims

Deficiencies of S in agricultural crops are becoming more common but comparatively little is known regarding the kinetics of cultivation-induced long-term changes in soil S pools.


In the present study, six soils were examined with samples collected from 82 sites – this allowing examination of the effects of cultivation for up to 70 years.


For four of the six soils, long-term cultivation resulted in significant decreases in total S concentrations, with calculated decreases ranging from 35 to 51 %. This decrease was due to mineralization of organic S, with half-life values ranging from 1.0 to 11 years. Generally, organic S decreased linearly with organic C concentrations. For newly-cultivated soils, the mineralization of organic S was sufficient to replace the S harvested in wheat (Triticum aestivum) grain, but after prolonged cultivation, the rate of S mineralization decreased by several orders of magnitude.


The data presented here provide important information on the effects of cultivation on S dynamics within sub-tropical soils – this being required to effectively and sustainably manage these systems.


Biochemical mineralization Biological mineralization Cultivation Sulfur 



Support was provided to Dr. Kopittke as a recipient of an Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Fellowship (FT120100277). The assistance of Maria Hernandez-Soriano in preparing the sample location map is acknowledged.

Supplementary material

11104_2015_2789_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (315 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 314 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter M. Kopittke
    • 1
  • Ram C. Dalal
    • 1
  • Neal W. Menzies
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Agriculture and Food SciencesThe University of QueenslandSt LuciaAustralia

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