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Journal of Arid Land  2021, Vol. 13 Issue (12): 1201-1214    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-021-0027-z
Original article     
Effects of restoration modes on the spatial distribution of soil physical properties after land consolidation: a multifractal analysis
KE Zengming1, LIU Xiaoli2, MA Lihui1,3,*(), TU Wen2, FENG Zhe2, JIAO Feng1,3, WANG Zhanli1,3
1State Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on the Loess Plateau, Institute of Soil and Water Conservation, Northwest A&F University, Yangling 712100, China
2College of Water Resources and Architectural Engineering, Northwest A&F University, Yangling 712100, China
3Institute of Water Saving Agriculture in Arid Areas of China, Northwest A&F University, Yangling 712100, China
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Soil physical properties (SPP) are considered to be important indices that reflect soil structure, hydrological conditions and soil quality. It is of substantial interest to study the spatial distribution of SPP owing to the high spatial variability caused by land consolidation under various land restoration modes in excavated farmland in the loess hilly area of China. In our study, three land restoration modes were selected including natural restoration land (NR), alfalfa land (AL) and maize land (ML). Soil texture composition, including the contents of clay, silt and sand, field capacity (FC), saturated conductivity (Ks) and bulk density (BD) were determined using a multifractal analysis. SPP were found to possess variable characteristics, although land consolidation destroyed the soil structure and decreased the spatial autocorrelation. Furthermore, SPP varied with land restoration and could be illustrated by the multifractal parameters of D1, ∆D, ∆α and ∆f in different modes of land restoration. Owing to multiple compaction from large machinery in the surface soil, soil particles were fine-grained and increased the spatial variability in soil texture composition under all the land restoration modes. Plough numbers and vegetative root characteristics had the most significant impacts on the improvement in SPP, which resulted in the best spatial distribution characteristics of SPP found in ML compared with those in AL and NR. In addition, compared with ML, ∆α values of NR and AL were 4.9- and 3.0-fold that of FC, respectively, and ∆α values of NR and AL were 2.3- and 1.5-fold higher than those of Ks, respectively. These results indicate that SPP can be rapidly improved by increasing plough numbers and planting vegetation types after land consolidation. Thus, we conclude that ML is an optimal land restoration mode that results in favorable conditions to rapidly improve SPP.

Key wordsland consolidation      land restoration      multifractal analysis      spatial distribution      soil physical properties     
Received: 10 October 2021      Published: 10 December 2021
Corresponding Authors: *MA Lihui (E-mail:
Cite this article:

KE Zengming, LIU Xiaoli, MA Lihui, TU Wen, FENG Zhe, JIAO Feng, WANG Zhanli. Effects of restoration modes on the spatial distribution of soil physical properties after land consolidation: a multifractal analysis. Journal of Arid Land, 2021, 13(12): 1201-1214.

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Fig. 1 (a), location of Ansai District in the hilly loess region of China; (b), schematic illustration of the "Gullies Reclamation for Farmland" project; (c), excavated farmland.
Fig. 2 Overview of study area. (a), natural restoration land; (b), alfalfa land; (c), maize land.
Soil property Soil depth (cm) ML CV AL CV NR CV
Clay content
0-20 9.85±0.34Aa 0.03 9.62±0.36Aab 0.04 9.49±0.36Ab 0.04
20-40 9.99±0.32Aa 0.03 9.72±0.31Ab 0.03 9.61±0.36Ab 0.04
Silt content
0-20 39.20±1.72Aa 0.04 39.33±1.74Aa 0.04 38.61±1.82Aa 0.05
20-40 40.04±1.71Aa 0.04 39.36±1.7Aa 0.04 38.97±1.70Aa 0.04
Sand content
0-20 50.95±1.61Aa 0.03 51.06±1.57Aa 0.03 51.89±1.69Aa 0.03
20-40 49.97±1.69Ab 0.03 50.92±1.68Ab 0.03 51.42±1.68Aa 0.03
BD (g/cm3) 0-20 1.06±0.08Bc 0.07 1.31±0.07Bb 0.05 1.52±0.07Aa 0.05
20-40 1.25±0.09Ac 0.07 1.49±0.11Ab 0.07 1.55±0.12Aa 0.08
FC (%) 0-20 24.26±0.81Aa 0.03 21.44±1.29Ab 0.06 19.48±1.58Ac 0.08
20-40 23.21±0.72Ba 0.03 20.08±1.10Bb 0.05 18.91±1.49Ac 0.08
Ks (cm/min) 0-20 0.62±0.13Aa 0.20 0.47±0.24Aab 0.50 0.35±0.25Ab 0.71
20-40 0.39±0.17Ba 0.44 0.20±0.12Bb 0.58 0.16±0.16Bb 0.99
Table 1 Soil bulk density (BD), field capacity (FC), saturated hydraulic conductivity (Ks) and soil texture (clay, silt and sand contents) in three plots
Soil depth
D1 D α f D1 D α f D1 D α f
Clay content 0-20 1.9992 0.0169 0.0335 0.0081 1.9990 0.0195 0.0388 0.0091 1.9990 0.0198 0.0395 0.0229
20-40 1.9994 0.0125 0.0253 0.0225 1.9994 0.0124 0.0249 0.0222 1.9992 0.0168 0.0335 0.0229
Mean 1.9993 0.0147 0.0294 0.0153 1.9992 0.016 0.0319 0.0157 1.9991 0.0183 0.0365 0.0229
Silt content 0-20 1.9988 0.0238 0.0469 -0.0296 1.9988 0.0238 0.0470 -0.0272 1.9986 0.0279 0.0551 -0.0355
20-40 1.9993 0.0146 0.0288 -0.0245 1.9992 0.0158 0.0312 -0.0259 1.9992 0.0163 0.0320 -0.0269
Mean 1.9991 0.0192 0.0379 -0.0271 1.9990 0.0198 0.0391 -0.0266 1.9989 0.0221 0.0436 -0.0312
Sand content 0-20 1.9994 0.0122 0.0245 0.0111 1.9994 0.0117 0.0235 0.0103 1.9993 0.0133 0.0267 0.0129
20-40 1.9995 0.0101 0.0204 0.0187 1.9995 0.0101 0.0203 0.0163 1.9995 0.0095 0.0190 0.0154
Mean 1.9995 0.0112 0.0225 0.0149 1.9995 0.0109 0.0219 0.0133 1.9994 0.0114 0.0229 0.0142
BD 0-20 1.9965 0.0688 0.1356 0.1243 1.9987 0.0246 0.0476 -0.0440 1.9990 0.0199 0.0390 -0.0096
20-40 1.9969 0.0596 0.1150 0.1126 1.9972 0.0546 0.1066 -0.0138 1.9974 0.0518 0.1036 0.1345
Mean 1.9967 0.0642 0.1253 0.1185 1.9980 0.0396 0.0771 -0.0289 1.9982 0.0359 0.0713 0.0625
FC 0-20 1.9994 0.0126 0.0249 -0.0041 1.9976 0.0462 0.0890 0.0256 1.9967 0.0614 0.1134 -0.0257
20-40 1.9995 0.0103 0.0204 0.0018 1.9987 0.0253 0.0488 -0.0119 1.9974 0.0539 0.1096 0.0338
Mean 1.9995 0.0115 0.0227 -0.0012 1.9982 0.0358 0.0689 0.0069 1.9971 0.0577 0.1115 0.0041
Ks 0-20 1.9745 0.3820 0.6086 -0.2603 1.8837 1.0203 1.2591 0.7595 1.7287 1.6684 1.9590 1.3434
20-40 1.9047 1.0157 1.3356 0.5495 1.7815 1.5097 1.7385 -0.7527 1.6603 2.1597 2.4938 -0.7405
Mean 1.9396 0.6989 0.9721 0.1446 1.8326 1.2650 1.4988 0.0034 1.6945 1.9141 2.2264 0.3015
Table 2 Multifractal parameters for soil bulk density (BD), field capacity (FC), saturated hydraulic conductivity (Ks) and soil texture (clay, silt and sand contents) in three plots
Fig. 3 Generalized fractal dimension (Dq) of soil texture (clay (a and b), silt (c and d) and sand contents (e and f)) in different soil layers in three plots. q, probability density weight index; ML, maize land; AL, alfalfa land; NR, natural recovery land.
Fig. 4 Generalized fractal dimension (Dq) of soil bulk density (BD; a and b), field capacity (FC; c and d) and saturated hydraulic conductivity (Ks; e and f) in different soil layers in three plots. q, probability density weight index; ML, maize land; AL, alfalfa land; NR, natural recovery land.
Fig. 5 Multifractal spectrum functions for soil texture (clay (a and b), silt (c and d) and sand contents (e and f)) in different soil layers in three plots. f(α), singularity spectrum; α(q), singularity exponent; ML, maize land; AL, alfalfa land; NR, natural recovery land.
Fig. 6 Multifractal spectrum functions for soil bulk density (BD; a and b), field capacity (FC; c and d) and saturated hydraulic conductivity (Ks; e and f) in different soil layers in three plots. f(α), singularity spectrum; α(q), singularity exponent; ML, maize land; AL, alfalfa land; NR, natural recovery land.
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