Seasonal responses in microbial biomass carbon, phosphorus and sulphur in soils under pasture
The response of the soil microbial biomass to seasonal changes was investigated in the field under pastures. These studies showed that over a 9-month period, microbial biomass carbon, phosphorus and sulphur (biomass C, P, S), and their ratios (C:P, C:S, and P:S) responded differently to changes in soil moisture and to the input of fresh organic materials. From October to December (1993), when plant residues were largely incorporated into the soils, biomass C and S increased by 150–210%. Biomass P did not increase over this time, having decreased by 22–64% over the dry summer (July to September). There was no obvious correlation between biomass C, P, and S and air temperature. The largest amounts of biomass C and P (2100–2300μg and 150–190μgg–1 soil, respectively) were found in those soils receiving farmyard manure (FYM or FYM+NPK) and P fertilizer, whereas the use of ammonium sulphate decreased biomass C and P. The C:P, C:S, and P:S ratios of the biomass varied considerably (9–276:1; 50–149:1; and 0.3–14:1, respectively) with season and fertilizer regime. This reflected the potential for the biomass to release (when ratios were narrow) or to immobilize (wide ratios) P and S at different times of the year. Thus, seasonal responses in biomass C, P, and S are important in controlling the cycling of C, P, and S in pasture and ultimately in regulating plant availability of P and S. The uptake of P in the pasture was well correlated with the sum of P in the biomass and soil available pools. Thus, the simultaneous measurement of microbial biomass P and available P provide useful information on the potential plant availability of P.
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