Does animal manure application improve soil aggregation? Insights from nine long-term fertilization experiments

Dr Zichun Guo1, Professor Xinhua Peng1

1Institute Of Soil Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China, , China

Manure application is widely recognized as a method of improving soil structure and soil fertility due to additional organic matter and nutrient inputs. However, the salinity of animal manure may have a detrimental effect on soil aggregation. The objective of this study was to determine the effects of long-term animal manure application on soil aggregation, binding agents (soil organic carbon, SOC and glomalin-related soil protein, GRSP), and dispersing agents (e.g., Na+) and their relationships based on nine long-term fertilization experiments (12 to 39 yr) across China. The two red soil experiments (Qiyang, QY and Jinxian , JX) and one paddy soil experiment in Jinxian (JX-P) were conducted in southern China (precipitation above 1200 mm yr-1), whereas the other six experiments were established in semi-humid or arid regions in China with precipitation in the range of 500-900 mm yr-1. Each experiment included three treatments as follows: no fertilization (Control), inorganic fertilizer (NP or NPK), and a combination of inorganic fertilizer and animal manure (NPM or NPKM). Long-term animal manure application not only significantly increased the biological binding agents (i.e., SOC and GRSP) in the nine experiments but also considerably increased the dispersing agents (i.e., exchangeable Na+) (P < 0.05), except for the paddy soil experiment. Consequently, soil aggregate stability increased after animal manure application in three experimental sites in southern China but not in the experimental sites in northern China. Aggregate stability had a positive relationship with SOC and GRSP in the experimental sites in southern China (P <0.01) but a negative relationship with exchangeable Na+ in the experimental sites in northern China (P < 0.05). The Na+ accumulation in soils was negatively related to mean annual precipitation (P < 0.001). Our study demonstrates that the long-term application of animal manure may degrade soil structure via the Na+ accumulation.


I am focus on soil aggregation and SOC physical fractions and its chemical composition in the long-term fertilization.


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