Journal of Soils and Sediments

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 1466–1477 | Cite as

Soil aggregation formation in relation to planting time, water salinity, and species in the Taklimakan Desert Highway shelterbelt

  • Yongdong Wang
  • Ying Zhao
  • Shengyu Li
  • Fangyu Shen
  • Mengmeng Jia
  • Jianguo Zhang
  • Xinwen Xu
  • Jiaqiang Lei
Soils, Sec 2 • Global Change, Environ Risk Assess, Sustainable Land Use • Research Article



Soil formation and development can play an important role in the control of desertification in artificially forested desert areas. Here, we aimed to investigate soil aggregate formation in the Taklimakan Desert Highway shelterbelt (TDHS), China.

Materials and methods

We evaluated the topsoil aggregate stability and its fractal characteristics in relation to time from planting and irrigation water salinity.

Results and discussion

The results showed that (1) regardless of soils investigated, the soil dry aggregate (SDA) content was higher than the soil water-stable aggregate (WSA) content. The > 0.25-mm SDA content ranged from 3.35 to 28.04%, whereas the > 0.25-mm WSA content ranged from 0.02 to 7.25%; (2) the > 0.25-mm SDA content, as well as the mean weight diameter (MWD) and geometric mean diameter (GMD) of soil aggregates increased with increasing planting time, indicating that plant growth accelerated soil formation; (3) the > 2-mm SDA content was considered to better characterize the soil mechanical stability against wind erosion, whereas the > 1-mm WSA content to better indicate the soil aggregate ability against water dispersion; and (4) the fractal dimension (D) of soil aggregates significantly increased with the increasing of shelterbelt ages, the total N and organic matter contents, and decreased with the increasing bulk density. Therefore, the D value was viewed as an indicator for quantifying the degree of sandy soil development.


We concluded that the artificial construction of TDHS prevents desertification by accelerating aggregate formation and consequently increasing soil stability.


Aggregates Artificial shelterbelt Fractal characteristics Particle size distribution Shelterbelt·soil 



Fractal dimension


Geometric mean diameter


Mean weight diameter


Particle size distribution


Soil dry aggregate


Taklimakan Desert Highway shelterbelt


Water stable aggregate


Funding information

This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 41271341, 41371234, and 41030530), the Thousand Youth Talents Plan Project (Y472241001), and the Comprehensive Project of Tarim Section of PetroChina Company Limited (Grant No. 971012080007).

Supplementary material

11368_2017_1880_MOESM1_ESM.docx (28 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 27 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of SciencesUrumqiChina
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Plant Nutrition and the Agri-environment in Northwest China, Ministry of AgricultureNorthwest A&F UniversityYanglingChina
  3. 3.Graduate University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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