Light Gray Surface-Gleyed Loamy Sandy Soils of the Northern Part of Tambov Plain: Agroecology, Properties, and Diagnostics
Light gray soils of Tambov oblast mainly develop from sandy and loamy sandy parent materials; these are the least studied soils in this region. Despite their coarse texture, these soils are subjected to surface waterlogging. They are stronger affected by the agrogenic degradation in comparison with chernozems and dark gray soils. Morphology, major elements of water regime, physical properties, and productivity of loamy sandy light gray soils with different degrees of gleyzation have been studied in the northern part of Tambov Plain in order to substantiate the appropriate methods of their management. The texture of these soils changes at the depth of 70–100 cm. The upper part is enriched in silt particles (16–30%); in the lower part, the sand content reaches 80–85%. In the nongleyed variants, middle-profile horizons contain thin iron-cemented lamellae (pseudofibers); in surface-gleyed variants, iron nodules are present in the humus horizon. The removal of clay from the humus horizon and its accumulation at the lithological contact and in pseudofibers promote surface subsidence and formation of microlows in the years with moderate and intense winter precipitation. The low range of active moisture favors desiccation of the upper horizons to the wilting point in dry years. The yield of cereal crops reaches 3.5–4.5 t/ha in the years with high and moderate summer precipitation on nongleyed and slightly gleyed light gray soils and decreases by 20–50% on strongly gleyed light gray soils. On light gray soils without irrigation, crop yields are unstable, and productivity of pastures is low. High yields of cereals and vegetables can be obtained on irrigated soils. In this case, local drainage measures should be applied to microlows; liming can be recommended to improve soil productivity.
Keywordslight gray soils (Greyzemic Phaeozems) waterlogging gleying double-layer surface water crop yield
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