Plant and Soil

, Volume 332, Issue 1–2, pp 207–217 | Cite as

Effects of black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) on soil properties in the loessial gully region of the Loess Plateau, China

  • Liping Qiu
  • Xingchang Zhang
  • Jimin Cheng
  • Xianqiang Yin
Regular Article


Black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) has been widely planted in the Loess Plateau for soil and water conservation. The effects of black locust on soil properties has significant role in land use and ecosystem management. However, this beneficial effect has been little studied in the Loess Plateau. The soil properties below black locust and native grass growing in Nanxiaohe and Wangdonggou watersheds, located in the loessial gully region of the Loess Plateau, were studied for changes in soil properties after establishment of black locust. The black locust significantly increased soil cation exchange capacity, organic carbon, total nitrogen, nitrate, and carbon:nitrogen and carbon:phosphorus (P) ratios, as well as some enzymes like alkaline phosphatase and invertase in 0–20 cm or 0–80 cm depths of soil compared to the native grassland in Nanxiaohe and Wangdonggou watersheds. However, the effects on ammonium, total P, and extractable P and potassium were not consistent in both watersheds. There were more obvious differences in soil properties between black locust land and grassland for Nanxiaohe watershed than for Wangdonggou watershed, suggesting that the effects of black locust on most soil properties increase with black locust age. The results indicate that black locust has potential to improve soil properties in the loessial gully region of the Loess Plateau and the improvements were greater in long-term than middle-term black locust stands.


Afforestation Black locust Native grass Soil properties The Loess Plateau 



This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (40901145), West Light Foundation of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and the Knowledge Innovation Program of Chinese Academy of Sciences (KZCX2-YW-441). The authors thank the anonymous reviewers of this paper for their useful suggestions.


  1. Alfredssona H, Condronb LM, Clarholmc M, Davisd MR (1998) Changes in soil acidity and organic matter following the establishment of conifers on former grassland in New Zealand. For Ecol Manag 112:245–252CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Al-Niemi TS, Kahn ML, McDermott TR (1997) P metabolism in the bean-Rhizobium tropici symbiosis. Plant Physiol 113:1233–1242PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. An SS, Huang YM (2006) Rapid changes of soil properties following Caragana korshinski plantations in the hilly-gully Loess Plateau. Frontiers of Forestry in China 1:394–399CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Campbell CR, Frost P, King JA, Mawanza M, Mhlanga L (1994) The influence of trees on soil fertility on two contrasting semi-arid soil types at Matopos, Zimbabwe. Agroforest Syst 28:159–172CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cao S, Chen L, Xu C, Liu Z (2007) Impact of three soil types on afforestation in China’s Loess Plateau: growth and survival of six tree species and their effects on soil properties. Landsc Urban Plan 83:208–217CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Caravaca F, Lax A, Albaladejo J (1999) Organic matter, nutrient contents and cation exchange capacity in fine fractions from semiarid calcareous soils. Geoderma 93:161–176CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cavigelli MA, Lengnick LL, Buyer JS, Fravel D, Handoo Z, McCarty G, Millner P, Sikora L, Wright S, Vinyard B, Rabenhorst M (2005) Landscape level variation in soil resources and microbial properties in a no-till corn field. Appl Soil Ecol 29:99–123CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chen HJ (2003) Phosphatase activity and P fractions in soils of an 18-year-old Chinese fir (Cunninghamia lanceolata) plantation. For Ecol Manag 178:301–310CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chen CR, Xu ZH (2005) Soil carbon and nitrogen pools and microbial properties in a 6-year-old slash pine plantation of subtropical Australia: impacts of harvest residue management. For Ecol Manag 206:237–247CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chen CR, Condron LM, Davis MR, Sherlock RR (2000) Effects of afforestation on phosphorus dynamics and biological properties in a New Zealand grassland soil. Plant Soil 220:151–163CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chen CR, Condron LM, Davis MR, Sherlock RR (2002) Phosphorus dynamics in the rhizosphere of perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.) and radiata pine (Pinus radiata D. Don.). Soil Biol Biochem 34:487–499CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Chen CR, Condron LM, Xu ZH (2008a) Impacts of grassland afforestation with coniferous trees on soil phosphorus dynamics and associated microbial processes: a review. For Ecol Manag 255:396–409CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Chen H, Shao M, Li Y (2008b) Soil desiccation in the Loess Plateau of China. Geoderma 143:91–100CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Chien SH, Leon LA, Tejeda HR (1980) Dissolution of North Carolina phosphate rock in acid Colombia soils as related to soil properties. Soil Sci Soc Am J 44:1267–1271Google Scholar
  15. Clemente AS, Werner C, Máguas C, Cabral MS, Martins-Louçao MA, Correoa O (2004) Restoration of a limestone quarry: effect of soil amendments on the establishment of native Mediterranean sclerophyllous shrubs. Restor Ecol 12:20–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Dalias P, Anderson JM, Bottner P, Coûteaux MM (2001) Temperature responses of carbon mineralization in conifer forest soils from different regional climates incubated under standard laboratory conditions. Glob Chang Biol 6:181–192CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Falkengren-Grerup U, Tyler G (2007) The importance of soil acidity, moisture, exchangeable cation pools and organic matter solubility to the cationic composition of beech forest (Fagus sylvatica L.) soil solution. Z Pflanzenernähr Bodenkd 156:365–370CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Fang C, Smith P, Moncrieff JB, Smith JU (2005) Similar response of labile and resistant soil organic matter pools to changes in temperature. Nature 433:57–59CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Farley KA, Kelly EF (2004) Effects of afforestation of a paramo grassland on soil nutrient status. For Ecol Manag 195:281–290CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Finzi AC, Canham CD, Van Breemen N (1998) Canopy tree–soil interactions within temperate forests: species effects on pH and cations. Ecol Appl 8:447–454Google Scholar
  21. Firsching BM, Claassen N (1996) Root phosphatase activity and soil organic phosphorus utilization by Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.). Soil Biol Biochem 28:1417–1424CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Garcia-Quijano JF, Deckmyn G, Moons E, Proost S, Ceulemans R, Muys B (2005) An integrated decision support framework for the prediction and evaluation of efficiency, environmental impact and total social cost of domestic and international forestry projects for greenhouse gas mitigation: description and case studies. For Ecol Manag 207:245–262CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Gillespie AR, Pope PE (1990) Rhizosphere acidification increases phosphorus recovery of black locust: II. Model predictions and measured recovery. Soil Sci Soc Am J 54:538–541CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Groenendijk FM, Condron LM, Rijkse WC (2002) Effects of afforestation on organic carbon, nitrogen and sulfur concentrations in New Zealand hill country soils. Geoderma 108:91–100CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Guo XP, Zhu JZ, Yu XX, Luo J (2005) Ways to improve low-benefit black locust forests in Loess Plateau. Forestry Studies in China 7:57–62CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hardtle W, von Oheimb G, Friedel A, Meyer H, Westphal C (2004) Relationship between pH-values and nutrient availability in forest soils—the consequences for the use of ecograms in forest ecology. Flora 199:134–142Google Scholar
  27. Hazlett PW, Gordon AM, Voroney RP, Sibley PK (2007) Impact of harvesting and logging slash on nitrogen and carbon dynamics in soils from upland spruce forests in northeastern Ontario. Soil Biol Biochem 39:43–57CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. He F, Huang M, Dang T (2003) Distribution characteristic of dried soil layer in Wangdonggou Watershed in gully region of the Loess Plateau. J Nat Resour 18:30–36Google Scholar
  29. Jackson RB, Jobbagy EG, Avissar R, Roy SB, Barrett DJ, Cook CW, Farley KA, le Maitre DC, McCarl BA, Murray BC (2005) Trading water for carbon with biological carbon sequestration. Science 310:1944–1947CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Jobbágy EG, Jackson RB (2000) The vertical distribution of soil organic carbon and its relation to climate and vegetation. Ecol Appl 10:423–436CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Jobbágy EG, Jackson RB (2003) Patterns and mechanisms of soil acidification in the conversion of grasslands to forests. Biogeochemistry 64:205–229CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kachurina OM, Zhang H, Raun WR, Krenzer EG (2000) Simultaneous determination of soil aluminum, ammonium- and nitrate-nitrogen using 1 M potassium chloride extraction. Commun Soil Sci Plant Anal 31:893–903CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Kamara CS, Haque I (1992) Faidherbia albida and its effects on Ethiopian highland Vertisols. Agrofor Syst 18:17–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kirschbaum MUF, Guo LB, Gifford RM (2008) Why does rainfall affect the trend in soil carbon after converting pastures to forests? A possible explanation based on nitrogen dynamics. For Ecol Manag 255:2990–3000CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Klemmedson JO (1994) New Mexican Locust and parent material: influence on forest floor and soil macronutrients. Soil Sci Soc Am J 58:974–979Google Scholar
  36. Krairapanond A, Jugsujinda A, Patrick WH Jr (1993) Phosphorus sorption characteristics in acid sulfate soils of Thailand: effect of uncontrolled and controlled soil redox potential (Eh) and pH. Plant Soil 157:227–237CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Laclau J-P, Ranger J, Deleporte P, Nouvellon Y, Saint-André L, Marlet S, Bouillet JP (2005) Nutrient cycling in a clonal stand of Eucalyptus and adjacent savannah ecosystem in Congo. 3. Input–output budgets and consequences for the sustainability of the plantations. For Ecol Manag 210:375–391CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Li SX (2004) Dryland agriculture in China. Chinese Agriculture Press, BeijingGoogle Scholar
  39. Liu G, Deng T (1991) Mathematical model of the relationship between nitrogen-fixation by black locust and soil conditions. Soil Biol Biochem 23:1–7CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Macedo MO, Resende AS, Garcia PC, Boddey RM, Jantalia CP, Urquiaga S, Campello EFC, Franco AA (2008) Changes in soil C and N stocks and nutrient dynamics 13 years after recovery of degraded land using leguminous nitrogen-fixing trees. For Ecol Manag 255:1516–1524CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Marschner H (1995) Mineral nutrition of higher plants, 2nd edn. Academic, LondonGoogle Scholar
  42. Marschner B, Noble AD (2000) Chemical and biological processes leading to the neutralisation of acidity in soil incubated with litter material. Soil Biol Biochem 32:805–813CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Mendham DS, Sankaran KV, O’Connell AM, Grove TS (2002) Eucalyptus globulus harvest residue management effects on soil carbon and microbial biomass at 1 and 5 years after plantation establishment. Soil Biol Biochem 34:1903–1912CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Menyailo OV, Hungate BA, Zech W (2002) The effect of single tree species on soil microbial activities related to C and N cycling in the Siberian artificial afforestation experiment: tree species and soil microbial activities. Plant Soil 242:183–196CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Mohr D, Simon M, Topp W (2005) Stand composition affects soil quality in oak stands on reclaimed and natural sites. Geoderma 129:45–53CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Nouvellon Y, Epron D, Kinana A, Hamel O, Mabiala A, D’Annunzio R, Deleporte P, Saint-Andre L, Marsden C, Roupsard O, Bouillet J, Laclau J (2008) Soil CO2 effluxes, soil carbon balance, and early tree growth following savannah afforestation in Congo: comparison of two site preparation treatments. For Ecol Manag 255:1926–1936CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Nuruzzaman M, Lambers H, Bolland MDA, Veneklaas EJ (2005) Phosphorus benefits of different legume crops to subsequent wheat grown in different soils of Western Australia. Plant Soil 271:175–187CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Olesniewicz KS, Thomas RB (1999) Effects of mycorrhizal colonization on biomass production and nitrogen fixation of black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) seedlings grown under elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide. New Phytol 142:133–140CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Page AL, Miller RH, Kenney DR (1982) Methods of soil analysis Part 2 (Agronomy Monographs 9). American Society of Agronomy, MadisonGoogle Scholar
  50. Piirainen S, Finér L, Mannerekoski H, Starr M (2002) Effects of forest clear-cutting on the carbon and nitrogen fluxes through podsolic soil horizons. Plant Soil 239:301–311CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Reicosky DC, Forcella F (1998) Cover crop and soil quality interactions in agroecosystem. J Soil Water Conserv 53:224–229Google Scholar
  52. Requena N, Pérez-Solís E, Azcón-Aguilar C, Jeffries P, Barea JM (2001) Management of indigenous plant-microbe symbioses aids restoration of desertified ecosystems. Appl Environ Microbiol 67:495–498CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  53. Rhoades CC (2007) The influence of American Chestnut (Castanea dentata) on nitrogen availability, organic matter and chemistry of silty and sandy loam soils. Pedobiologia 50:553–562CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Rhoades CC, Eckert GE, Coleman DC (1998) Effects of pasture trees on soil nitrogen and organic matter. Restor Ecol 6:262–270CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Rhoades CC, Oskarsson H, Binkley D, Stottlemer R (2001) Alder (Alnus crispa) effects on soils in ecosystems of the Agashashok River valley, northwest Alaska. Ecoscience 8:89–95Google Scholar
  56. Rice SK, Westerman B, Federici R (2004) Impacts of the exotic, nitrogen-fixing black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) on nitrogen-cycling in a pine–oak ecosystem. Plant Ecol 174:97–107CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Saikh H, Varadachari C, Ghosh K (1998) Changes in carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus levels due to deforestation and cultivation: a case study in Simlipal National Park, India. Plant Soil 198:137–145CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Sankaran M, Hanan NP, Scholes RJ, Ratnam J, Augustine DJ, Cade BS, Gignoux J, Higgins SI, Roux XL, Ludwig F, Ardo J, Banyikwa F, Bronn A, Bucini G, Caylor KK, Coughenour MB, Diouf A, Ekaya W, Feral CJ, February EC, Frost PGH, Hiernaux P, Hrabar H, Metzger KL, Prins HHT, Ringrose S, Sea W, Tews J, Worden J, Zambatis N (2005) Determinants of woody cover in African savannas. Nature 438:846–849CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  59. SAS Institute Inc (1999) SAS user’s guide. Version 8. Cary NCGoogle Scholar
  60. Silver WL, Ostertag R, Lugo AE (2000) The potential for carbon sequestration through reforestation of abandoned tropical agricultural and pasture lands. Restor Ecol 8:394–407CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Six J, Conant RT, Paul EA, Paustian K (2002) Stabilization mechanisms of soil organic matter: implications for C-saturation of soils. Plant Soil 241:155–176CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Stevens A, Wesemael BV (2008) Soil organic carbon stock in the Belgian Ardennes as affected by afforestation and deforestation from 1868 to 2005. For Ecol Manag 256:1527–1539CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Tateno R, Tokuchi N, Yamanaka N, Du S, Otsuki K, Shimamura T, Xue Z, Wang S, Hou Q (2007) Comparison of litterfall production and leaf litter decomposition between an exotic black locust plantation and an indigenous oak forest near Yan’an on the Loess Plateau. China. For Ecol Manag 241:84–90CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Ussiri DAN, Lal R, Jacinthe PA (2006) Soil properties and carbon sequestration of afforested pastures in reclaimed minesoils of Ohio. Soil Sci Soc Am J 70:1797–1806CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Vanlauwe B, Diels J, Sanginga N, Carsky RJ, Deckers J, Merckx R (2000) Utilization of rock phosphate by crops on a representative toposequence in the northern Guinea savanna zone of Nigeria: response by maize to previous herbaceous legume cropping and rock phosphate treatments. Soil Biol Biochem 32:2079–2090CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. von Oheimb G, Hardtle G, Naumann PS, Westphal C, Assmann T, Meyer H (2008) Long-term effects of historical heathland farming on soil properties of forest ecosystems. For Ecol Manag 255:1984–1993CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Walkley A, Black IA (1934) An examination of Degtjareff method for determining soil organic matter and a proposed modification of the chromic acid titration method. Soil Sci 37:29–37CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Wang L, Shao M, Li Y (2004) Study on relationship between growth of artificial Robinia pseudoacacia plantation and soil desiccation in the Loess Plateau of northern Shannxi Province. Scientia Silvae Sinicae 40:84–91Google Scholar
  69. Wang L, Wang Q, Wei S, Shao M, Li Y (2008) Soil desiccation for Loess soils on natural and regrown areas. For Ecol Manag 255:2467–2477CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Xue S, Liu G, Dai Q, Wei W, Hou X (2007) Evolution of soil microbial biomass in the restoration process of artificial Robinia pseudoacacia under erosion environment. Acta Ecologica Sinica 27:909–917Google Scholar
  71. Yampracha S, Attanandana T, Sidibe-Diarra A, Yost RS (2005) Predicting the dissolution of rock phosphates in flooded acid sulfate soils. Soil Sci Soc Am J 69:2000–2011CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Yimer F, Ledin S, Abdelkadir A (2007) Changes in soil organic carbon and total nitrogen contents in three adjacent land use types in the Bale Mountains, south-eastern highlands of Ethiopia. For Ecol Manag 242:337–342CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Zhao Q, Zeng DH, Lee DK, He XY, Fan ZP, Jin YH (2007) Effects of Pinus sylvestris var. mongolica afforestation on soil phosphorus status of the Keerqin Sandy Lands in China. J Arid Environ 69:569–582CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Zhou LK, Zhang ZM (1980) Measurements of soil enzyme. Chinese Journal of Soil Science 5:37–38Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Liping Qiu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Xingchang Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jimin Cheng
    • 1
    • 2
  • Xianqiang Yin
    • 1
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dryland FarmingNorthwest A & F UniversityYanglingChina
  2. 2.Institute of Soil and Water Conservation, CAS&MWRYanglingChina

Personalised recommendations