Nitrogen fertilization overweighs intercropping in promotion of dissolved organic carbon concentration and complexity in potato-cropped soil

Abstract

Aims

Intercropping promoted land productivity and be performed worldwide. This study aimed to assess the effect of intercropping on soil dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and its nitrogen (N) regulation.

Methods

The potato was monocropped and intercropped with maize under four N levels (0, 62.5, 125 and 187.5 kg ha−1 for N0, N1, N2 and N3, respectively) in a fixed plot experiment from 2014 in subtropical China. Soil DOC concentration was determined and seasonal and interannual dynamics were analyzed from 2016 to 2018; Absorption values of specified wavelength were selected to characterize the annul DOC composition. Finally, the driving factors of DOC variation were explored using structural equation modeling (SEM).

Results

Soil DOC concentration and accumulation under N-applied treatments were higher than N0 and the increase peaked at N1. Compared with monocropping, intercropping significantly increased DOC accumulation by 20.29% only at N0. N application significantly improved the contents of amines and aromatic compounds and the average molecular weight of DOC, thus improving the degree of humification and aromatization of soil DOC. The SEM showed that the chemical composition of DOC was complicated with increasing soil temperature, aboveground and root biomass, while DOC concentration and chemical composition significantly affected the accumulation of DOC.

Conclusions

Agricultural diversified cropping affects the dynamics and composition of soil DOC, which is intensively regulated by N fertilization. This study expands the insight into the variable DOC concentration and composition and its role in soil organic carbon turnover under the varying fertilization and cropping patterns.

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Acknowledgments

This work was financially supported by the National Science Foundation of China (41967004, 41201289, 41361065), the Agricultural Joint Project of Yunnan Province (2017FG001-027), Young and Middle-aged Reserve Talents Project of Yunnan Province (2017HB027) and the Key Research and Development Program of Yunnan Province (2018BB015). We are very grateful to professor Li Tang and Yi Zheng for their guidance and assistance in early implementation of field experiments. We thank Qilin Zhu, Xinling Ma and Wenbo Yi for their help in field management and physical and chemical properties determination from 2016 to 2018. Finally, we thank Yan Zhao, a visiting scholar at Cornell University, for her valuable comments on the language improvement of the article.

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Correspondence to Guangqiang Long.

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Wang, D., Zhao, P., Xiang, R. et al. Nitrogen fertilization overweighs intercropping in promotion of dissolved organic carbon concentration and complexity in potato-cropped soil. Plant Soil (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11104-021-04876-2

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Keywords

  • Soil DOC
  • Chemical structure
  • N application rates
  • Potato
  • Agricultural diversified cropping