Biology and Fertility of Soils

, Volume 19, Issue 2–3, pp 148–154 | Cite as

The short-term effects of cessation of fertiliser applications, liming, and grazing on microbial biomass and activity in a reseeded upland grassland soil

  • R. D. Bardgett
  • D. K. Leemans
Original Paper


A field study was conducted to determine the influence of a short-term (2 year) cessation of fertiliser applications, liming, and sheep-grazing on microbial biomass and activity in a reseeded upland grassland soil. The cessation of fertiliser applications (N and NPK) on a limed and grazed grassland had no effect on microbial biomass measurements, enzyme activities, or respiration. Withholding fertiliser and lime from a grazed grassland resulted in significant reductions in both microbial biomass C (P<0.05) and dehydrogenase activity (P<0.05) by approximately 18 and 21%, respectively. The removal of fertiliser applications, liming, and grazing resulted in even greater reductions in microbial biomass C (44%, P<0.001) and dehydrogenase activity (31%, P<0.001), and significant reductions in microbial biomass N (P<0.005), urease activity (P<0.05), phosphatase activity (P<0.001), and basal respiration (P<0.05). The abundance of culturable bacteria and fungi and the soil ATP content were unaffected by changes in grassland managements. With the cessation of liming soil pH fell from 5.4 to 4.7, and the removal of grazing resulted in a further reduction to pH 4.5. A significant negative linear relationship (r2=0.97; P<0.01) was found between increasing soil acidity and dehydrogenase activity. Possible mechanisms influencing these changes are discussed.

Key words

Microbial biomass Dehydrogenase activity Urease Phosphatase Respiration ATP Grazing Fertiliser Lime 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. D. Bardgett
    • 1
  • D. K. Leemans
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Grassland and Environmental ResearchAberystwythUK

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