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Improvement of nitrogen utilization and soil properties by addition of a mineral soil conditioner: mechanism and performance

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Abstract

A mineral soil conditioner (MSC) composed of activated potash feldspar, gypsum, and calcium carbonate and containing an amount of available mineral nutrients, is shown to be effective for plant growth and acidic soil amelioration. In this study, a field test was conducted over four rice seasons by examining treatment with control check (CK), MSC, biological active carbon, and lime to investigate the nitrogen-use efficiency and mechanism of soil characteristic variations due to the desilicification and allitization of soil as well as the unrestrained use of nitrogen (N) fertilizer in recent years. Influences of MSC on the xylem sap intensity and mean rice yields were evaluated, and the soil type was also analyzed using the FactSage 6.1 Reaction, phase diagram, and Equilib modules. The results of the field trial showed that MSC application increased the xylem sap intensity and nitrogen export intensity by 37.33–39.85% and 31.40–51.20%, respectively. A significant increase (5.63–15.48%) in mean grain yields was achieved with MSC application over that with biological active carbon and lime application. The effects of MSC had a tendency to increase with time in the field experiment results, and grain yields increased after the initial application. The new formation of clay minerals exhibits a significant influence on \( {\mathrm{NH}}_4^{+} \) fixation, especially for 2:1 phyllosilicates with illite, owing to the interlayers of the clay minerals. Our preliminary results showed that kaolinite, the main 1:1 phyllosilicate clay mineral in ferralsol, transformed to illite at room temperature as a consequence of the presence of H4SiO4 and available K+ supplied by MSC. This indicated that improving the soil quality combined with reducing N losses from soils is an efficient way to control non-point source pollution from agriculture without the risk of decreased in grain yield.

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Funding

This research was financially supported by the National Science and Technology Support Program of China (2015BAD05B05+2).

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Correspondence to Lin Shi.

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Responsible editor: Philippe Garrigues

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Yan, X., Shi, L. & Cai, R. Improvement of nitrogen utilization and soil properties by addition of a mineral soil conditioner: mechanism and performance. Environ Sci Pollut Res 25, 2805–2813 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-017-0464-6

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Keywords

  • Mineral soil conditioner
  • Control check
  • Illite