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Journal of Arid Land  2015, Vol. 7 Issue (4): 429-437    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-015-0003-6
Research Articles     
Changes in aggregate-associated organic carbon and nitrogen after 27 years of fertilization in a dryland alfalfa grassland on the Loess Plateau of China
ZHANG Liqiong1,2, WEI Xiaorong1,3, HAO Mingde1,3*, ZHANG Meng1,3
1 College of Natural Resources and Environment, Northwest A&F University, Yangling 712100, China;
2 College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Ankang University, Ankang 725000, China;
3 State Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming in the Loess Plateau, Northwest A&F University, Yangling 712100, China
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Abstract  Changes in the distribution of soil aggregate sizes and concentrations of aggregate-associated organic carbon (OC) and nitrogen (N) in response to the fertilization of grasslands are not well understood. Understanding these changes is essential to the sustainable development of artificial grasslands. For understanding these changes, we collected soil samples at 0–20 and 20–40 cm depths from a semi-arid artificial alfalfa grassland after 27 years of applications of phosphorus (P) and nitrogen+phosphorus+manure (NPM) fertilizers on the Loess Plateau of China. The distribution of aggregate sizes and the concentrations and stocks of OC and N in total soils were determined. The results showed that NPM treatment significantly increased the proportions of >2.0 mm and 2.0–0.25 mm size fractions, the mean geometric diameter (MGD) and the mean weight diameter (MWD) in the 0–20 cm layer. Phosphorous fertilizer significantly increased the proportion of >2.0 mm size fractions, the MGD and the MWD in the 0–20 cm layer. Long-term application of fertilization (P and NPM) resulted in the accumulation of OC and N in soil aggregates. The largest changes in aggregate-associated OC and N in the 0–20 cm layer were found at the NPM treatment, whereas the largest changes in the 20–40 cm layer were found at the P treatment. The results suggest that long-term fertilization in the grassland leads to the accumulation of OC and N in the coarse size fractions and the redistribution of OC and N from fine size fractions to coarse size fractions.

Key wordshydrogen isotope      D-enrichment      soil water content      northeast Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau     
Received: 11 July 2014      Published: 10 August 2015

This study was funded by the Program for New Century Excellent Talents in University (NCET-13-0487), the Program fromNorthwest A&F University (2014YQ007), the National Basic Research Program of China (2009CB118604), the National Science and Technology Support for Major Projects of China (2011BAD31B01), the Knowledge Innovation Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (KZCX2-YW-JC408), Science and Technology Generalized Program for the Overall Development of Agriculture in Ningxia (NTKJ-2014-01), and the Scientific Research Program from Education Department of Shaanxi Province (11JK0650).

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ZHANG Liqiong, WEI Xiaorong, HAO Mingde, ZHANG Meng. Changes in aggregate-associated organic carbon and nitrogen after 27 years of fertilization in a dryland alfalfa grassland on the Loess Plateau of China. Journal of Arid Land, 2015, 7(4): 429-437.

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