Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

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

  • 387 Accesses

  • 1 Citations


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.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5


  1. Alvarez-Puebla RA, Santos DSJ, dos Blanco C, Echeverria JC, Garrido JJ (2005) Particle and surface characterization of a natural illite and study of its copper retention. J Colloid Interface Sci 285:41–49

  2. Bale CW, Belisle E, Chartrand P, Decterov SA, Eriksson G, Hack K et al (2009) FactSage thermochemical software and databases—recent developments. Calphad 33:295–311

  3. Bhatti A, McClean CJ, Cresser MS (2013) Does plant uptake or low soil mineral-N production limit mineral-N losses to surface waters and groundwater from soils under grass in summer? Environ Pollut 178:128–134

  4. Bjørkum PA, Gjelsvik N (1988) An isochemical model for formation of authigenic kaolinite, K-feldspar and illite in sediments. J Sediment Petrol 58:506–511

  5. Cavalli D, Consolati G, Marino P, Bechini L (2015) Measurement and simulation of soluble, exchangeable, and non-exchangeable ammonium in three soils. Geoderma 259-260:116–125

  6. Choung S, Kim M, Yang JS, Kim MG, Um W (2014) Effects of radiation and temperature on iodide sorption by surfactant-modified bentonite. Environ Sci Technol 48:9684–9691

  7. Deng YJ, Dixon JB, White GN (2003) Molecular configurations and orientations of hydrazine between structural layers of kaolinite. J Colloid Interface Sci 257:208–227

  8. Fageria NK, Baligar VC (2008) Ameliorating soil acidity of tropical oxisols by liming for sustainable crop production. Adv Agron 99:345–399

  9. Gaihre YK, Singh U, Islam SMM, Huda A, Islam MR, Satter MA et al (2015) Impacts of urea deep placement on nitrous oxide and nitric oxide emissions from rice fields in Bangladesh. Geoderma 259-260:370–379

  10. Gonzalez-Dugo V, Durand JL, Gastal F (2010) Water deficit and nitrogen nutrition of crops. A review. Agron Sustain Dev 30:529–544

  11. Gouveia G, Eudoxie G (2002) Relationship between ammonium fixation and some soil properties and effect of cation treatment on fixed ammonium release in a range of Trinidad soils. Commun Soil Sci Plant Anal 33:1751–1765

  12. Guo SW, Xia SJ, Zhu HX, Zhang YH, Gu WM (2012) Determination method of rice root activity and characteristic of root activity in the later growth duration of two superhigh-yield rice hybrids. Soils 44(2):308–311

  13. Hofmeier M, Roelcke M, Han Y, Lan T, Bergmann H, Böhm D et al (2015) Nitrogen management in a rice–wheat system in the Taihu region: recommendations based on field experiments and surveys. Agric Ecosyst Environ 209:60–73

  14. Jiang X, Ma Y, Yuan J, Wright AL, Li H (2011) Soil particle surface electrochemical property effects on abundance of ammonia-oxidizing bacteria and ammonia-oxidizing archaea, NH4+ activity, and net nitrification in an acid soil. Soil Biol Biochem 43:2215–2221

  15. Jin CZ, Xu DW (1959) A simple method to collect the xylem sap as the root activity index. Plant Physiol Commun (4). https://doi.org/10.13592/j.cnki.ppj.1959.04.012

  16. Kim KS, Park M, Choi CL, Lee DH, Seo YJ, Kim CY et al (2011) Suppression of NH3 and N2O emissions by massive urea intercalation in montmorillonite. J Soils Sediments 11:416–422

  17. Liu N, Wu HH, Liu XH, Qi WZ, Shu YH, He GP (2011) Study of the regulation of soil mineralogical characteristics in the stabilization of organic matter in crimson soil from South China. Acta Petrol Mineral 30:1090–1098

  18. Madejova J (2003) FTIR techniques in clay mineral studies. Vib Spectrosc 31:1–10

  19. Mullane JM, Flury M, Iqbal H, Freeze PM, Hinman C, Cogger CG et al (2015) Intermittent rainstorms cause pulses of nitrogen, phosphorus, and copper in leachate from compost in bioretention systems. Sci Total Environ 537:294–303

  20. Nieder R, Benbi DK, Scherer HW (2011) Fixation and defixation of ammonium in soils: a review. Biol Fertil Soils 47:1–14

  21. Park M, Kim CY, Lee DH, Choi CL, Choi J, Lee SR et al (2004) Intercalation of magnesium-urea complex into swelling clay. J Phys Chem Solids 65:409–412

  22. Post JL, Borer L (2002) Physical properties of selected illites, besidellites and mixed-layer illite-beidellites from southwestern Idaho, and their infrared spectra. Appl Clay Sci 22:77–91

  23. Sahoo RK, Ansari MW, Dangar TK, Mohanty S, Tuteja N (2014) Phenotypic and molecular characterisation of efficient nitrogen-fixing Azotobacter strains from rice fields for crop improvement. Protoplasma 251:511–523

  24. Scherer HW (1993) Dynamics and availability of the non-exchangeable NH4-N—a review. Eur J Agrol 2:149–160

  25. Scherer HW, Feils E, Beuters P (2014) Ammonium fixation and release by clay minerals as influenced by potassium. Plant Soil Environ 60:325–331

  26. Shen ZY, Chen L, Hong Q, Qiu JL, Xie H, Liu R (2013) Assessment of nitrogen and phosphorus loads and causal factors from different land use and soil types in the Three Gorges Reservoir Area. Sci Total Environ 454-455:383–392

  27. Shen ZY, Qiu JL, Hong Q, Chen L (2014) Simulation of spatial and temporal distributions of non-point source pollution load in the Three Gorges Reservoir Region. Sci Total Environ 493:138–146

  28. Shi L, Xu PZ, Xie KZ, Tang SH, Li YL (2011) Preparation of a modified flue gas desulphurization residue and its effect on pot sorghum growth and acidic soil amelioration. J Hazard Mater 192:978–985

  29. Singurindy O, Molodovskaya M, Richards BK, Steenhuis TS (2008) Gaseous nitrogen emission from soil aggregates as affected by clay mineralogy and repeated urine applications. Water Air Soil Pollut 195:285–299

  30. Stenberg M, Ulen B, Soderstrom M, Roland B, Delin K, Helander CA (2012) Tile drain losses of nitrogen and phosphorus from fields under integrated and organic crop rotations. A four-year study on a clay soil in southwest Sweden. Sci Total Environ 434:79–89

  31. Tang Y, Wang XZ, Zhao HT, Feng K (2008) Effect of potassium and C/N ratios on conversion of NH4 + in soils. Pedosphere 18:539–544

  32. Thyne G, Boudreau BP, Ramm M, Midtbø RE (2001) Simulation of potassium feldspar dissolution and illitization in the Statfjord Formation, North Sea. AAPG Bull 85:621–635

  33. Wang HL, Brown SL, Magesan GN, Slade AH, Quintern M, Clinton PW et al (2008) Technological options for the management of biosolids. Environ Sci Pollut Res 15:308–317

  34. Xu PZ, Xie KZ, Liu GR, Xu CX, Tang SH, Jiang RP et al (2012) Effects of soil testing and formulated fertilization on rice yield and fertilization effect in cold waterlogged paddy field. Guangdong Agric Sci 39:70–73

  35. Yan LB, Stucki JW (1999) Effects of structural Fe oxidation state on the coupling of interlayer water and structural Si-O stretching vibrations in montmorillonite. Langmuir 15:4648–4657

  36. Yan WC, Liu D, Tan DY, Yuan P, Chen M (2012) FTIR spectroscopy study of the structure changes of palygorskite under heating. Spectrochim Acta Part A Mol Biomol Spectrosc 97:1052–1057

  37. Zhao BZ, Zhang JB, Yu YY, Karlen DL, Hao XY (2016) Crop residue management and fertilization effects on soil organic matter and associated biological properties. Environ Sci Pollut Res 23:17581–17591

  38. Zhou ZQ, Xu X, Bi ZC, Li L, Xiong ZQ (2016) Soil concentration profiles and diffusion and emission of nitrous oxide influenced by the application of biochar in a rice-wheat annual rotation system. Environ Sci Pollut Res 23:7949–7961

Download references


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

Author information

Correspondence to Lin Shi.

Additional information

Responsible editor: Philippe Garrigues

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

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

Download citation


  • Mineral soil conditioner
  • Control check
  • Illite