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Journal of Arid Land  2013, Vol. 5 Issue (1): 71-79    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-013-0143-5
Research Articles     
Land cover changes and the effects of cultivation on soil properties in Shelihu wetland, Horqin Sandy Land, Northern China
Jie LIAN1,2, XueYong ZHAO1, XiaoAn ZUO1, ShaoKun WANG1, XinYuan WANG1,2, YongQing LUO1,2
1 Naiman Desertification Research Station, Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou 730000, China;
2 University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
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Abstract   Land cover change plays an essential role in the alternation of soils properties. By field investigation and applying satellite images, land cover information in the Shelihu wetland was carried out in an area of 2,819 hm2 in 1985, 1995, 2000, 2005, 2010 and 2011, respectively, in Horqin Sandy Land. A total of 57 soil sampling sites across Shelihu were chosen in wet meadow (CL0), cropland (CL) and sandy land (SL) according to the spatial characteristics of water body change. Soil texture, organic carbon (SOC), total nitrogen (TN) and total phosphorus (TP) contents, electrical conductivity (EC) and pH were measured at the soil depths of 0–10, 10–20 and 20–40 cm to examine the influence of agricultural conversion and continuous cultivation on soil properties. The results showed that the study area was covered by water body in 1985, which gradually declined afterwards and then reclaimed rapidly at a mean annual rate of 132.1 hm2/a from wet meadow to cropland since 1995. In 2011, water body was drained and the area was occupied by 10.8% of CL0, 76.9% of CL and 12.3% of SL. Large amounts of SOC, TN and TP were accumulated in the above depths in CL0. Soil in CL0 also had higher EC and silt and clay fractions, lower pH than in SL and CL. Soil in SL was seriously degraded with lower contents of SOC, TN and TP than in CL and CL0. SOC, TN content and EC in CL decreased with the increase of cultivation age, while pH showed a reverse trend with significance at plough horizon. The agricultural conversion in Shelihu was driven by the comprehensive factors of precipitation reduction, economic development and intense competitions for irrigation water. Continuous cultivation in this process is not sustainable because of SOC degradation and nutrient content reduction. The key point is that conventional tillage and removal of residuals induced further land degradation. Wetland reclamation for immediate economic interests led to greater costs in the long-term environmental restoration in Horqin Sandy Land.

Key wordssummer cover crop      management systems      soil structure properties      total carbon     
Received: 29 May 2012      Published: 06 March 2013

The National Natural Science Foun-dation of China (41071185, 41171414) and the National Sci-ence and Technology Support Program (2011BAC07B02).

Corresponding Authors: Jie LIAN     E-mail:
Cite this article:

Jie LIAN, XueYong ZHAO, XiaoAn ZUO, ShaoKun WANG, XinYuan WANG, YongQing LUO. Land cover changes and the effects of cultivation on soil properties in Shelihu wetland, Horqin Sandy Land, Northern China. Journal of Arid Land, 2013, 5(1): 71-79.

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