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Journal of Arid Land  2017, Vol. 9 Issue (5): 678-687    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-017-0026-2
Orginal Article     
Long-term agricultural activity affects anthropogenic soil on the Chinese Loess Plateau
Xiaoyun LI1,2,*(), Yiquan WANG3, E REYNOLDS Mark4, Xiaoping LI1,2, Xinwei LU1
1 School of Geography and Tourism, Shaanxi Normal University, Xi’an 710119, China
2 SNNU-JSU Joint Research Center for Nano-environment Science and Health, Xi’an 710119, China
3 College of Resources and Environment, Northwest A&F University, Yangling 712100, China
4 Stockbridge School of Agriculture, University of Massachusetts, Massachusetts 01003, USA
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Anthropogenic activities largely influence the soil quality of agricultural fields and the composition of soil. Samples of typical anthropogenic Loutu soil in the Guanzhong area of the Loess Plateau, Shaanxi Province, China were collected and measured for soil compaction, bulk density, total organic carbon (TOC), active organic carbon (AOC), and soil enzyme activities to investigate spatial variations in soil quality. The results indicate that soil compaction and bulk density increased with increasing distance from the farm village, whereas soil TOC, AOC, and soil enzyme activities firstly increased and subsequently decreased with increasing distance from the farm village. All of the tested parameters presented clear concentric distribution. Vertically, soil compaction and bulk density in the topsoil were lower than those in the subsoil, but all other tested parameters in the topsoil were significantly higher than those in the subsoil. In addition, there was a significant positive correlation between organic carbon content and enzyme activities, confirming that the spatial distribution of Loutu soil characteristics has been affected by long-term anthropogenic activities to some extent. The results of this study imply that the use of farmyard manure and appropriate deep plowing are important and effective ways to maintain and improve soil quality.

Key wordsanthropogenic soil      spatial variation      organic carbon      enzyme activity      soil quality     
Received: 21 September 2016      Published: 22 August 2017
Corresponding Authors: Xiaoyun LI     E-mail:;
Cite this article:

Xiaoyun LI, Yiquan WANG, E REYNOLDS Mark, Xiaoping LI, Xinwei LU. Long-term agricultural activity affects anthropogenic soil on the Chinese Loess Plateau. Journal of Arid Land, 2017, 9(5): 678-687.

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