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

  • Published:

pH, nitrogen mineralization, and KCl-extractable aluminum as affected by initial soil pH and rate of vetch residue application: results from a laboratory study



Initial soil pH determines the direction and magnitude of pH change after residue addition. This study aimed to evaluate the relative importance of initial soil pH and rate of residue application in determining subsequent pH change, nitrogen (N) mineralization, and soil-exchangeable aluminum (Al).

Materials and methods

An incubation experiment was conducted for 102 days on a Plinthudult soil and a Paleudalf soil, where pH gradients were produced after application of direct current (DC). Rates of vetch applications were 0, 5, 15, 30, and 50 g kg−1 soil.

Results and discussion

Increasing rates of vetch application caused greater increases in soil pH, but no consistent increase in soil pH at higher initial pH range (4.40∼6.74), because of nitrification. There was a positive correlation between alkalinity production and the initial soil pH at day 14, while correlations became negative at days 56 and 102. Mineral N accumulated as NH4 +–N in low pH soils, due to limited nitrification, while NO3 –N dominated in higher pH soils. Application of vetch decreased KCl-extractable Al, probably because of complexation of Al by organic matter and precipitation of Al as a result of increased pH, reductions in Al concentration increased with increasing rates of vetch application. However, this amelioration effect on Al concentration weakened with time in higher pH soils.


Application of vetch residue can significantly increase soil pH and concentrations of mineral N and reduce exchangeable Al. These amelioration effects are enhanced with increased rate of vetch addition and vary with time depending on the initial pH of the soil.

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

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


  1. Abera G, Wolde-meskel E, Bakken LR (2012) Carbon and nitrogen mineralization dynamics in different soils of the tropics amended with legume residues and contrasting soil moisture contents. Biol Fertil Soils 48:51–66

  2. Aciego Pietri JC, Brookes PC (2008) Nitrogen mineralization along a pH gradient of a silty loam UK soil. Soil Biol Biochem 40:797–802

  3. Bessho T, Bell LC (1992) Soil solid and solution phase changes and mung bean response during amelioration of aluminium toxicity with organic matter. Plant Soil 140:183–196

  4. Black AL (1973) Soil property changes associated with crop residue management in a wheat–fallow rotation. Soil Sci Soc Am Proc 37:943–946

  5. Butterly CR, Baldock JA, Tang C (2013) The contribution of crop residues to changes in soil pH under field conditions. Plant Soil 366:185–198

  6. Cheng Y, Wang J, Mary B, Zhang JB, Cai ZC, Chang SX (2013) Soil pH has contrasting effects on gross and net nitrogen mineralization in adjacent forest and grassland soils in central Alberta, Canada. Soil Biol Biochem 57:848–857

  7. Chew CF, Zhang TC (1999) Abiotic degradation of nitrates using zero-valent iron and electrokinetic processes. Environ Eng Sci 16:389–401

  8. Corbeels M, O’Connell AM, Grove TS, Mendham DS, Rance SJ (2003) Nitrogen release from eucalyptus leaves and legume residues as influenced by their biochemical quality and degree of contact with soil. Plant Soil 250:15–28

  9. Dancer WS, Peterson LA, Chesters G (1973) Ammonification and nitrification of N as influenced by soil pH and previous N treatments. Soil Sci Soc Am J 37:61–69

  10. Duiker SW, Lal R (1999) Crop residue and tillage effects on carbon sequestration in a Luvisol in central Ohio. Soil Tillage Res 52:73–81

  11. Espinoza S, Ovalle C, Zagal E, Matus I, Tay J, Peoples MB, del Pozo A (2012) Contribution of legumes to wheat productivity in Mediterranean environments of central Chile. Field Crop Res 133:150–159

  12. Fox RH, Myers RJK, Vallis I (1990) The nitrogen mineralization rate of legume residues in soil as influenced by their polyphenol, lignin, and nitrogen contents. Plant Soil 129:251–259

  13. Fu MH, Xu XC, Tabatabai MA (1987) Effect of pH on nitrogen mineralization in crop-residue-treated soils. Biol Fertil Soils 5:115–119

  14. Hallam MJ, Bartholomew WV (1953) Influence of rate of plant residue addition in accelerating the decomposition of soil organic matter. Soil Sci Soc Am J 17:365–368

  15. Haynes RJ, Mokolobate MS (2001) Amelioration of Al toxicity and P deficiency in acid soils by additions of organic residues: a critical review of the phenomenon and the mechanisms involved. Nutr Cycl Agroecosyst 59:47–63

  16. Hue NV, Amien I (1989) Aluminum detoxification with green manures. Commun Soil Sci Plant 20:1499–1511

  17. Hue NV, Craddock GR, Adams F (1986) Effect of organic acids on aluminum toxicity in subsoils. Soil Sci Soc Am J 50:28–34

  18. Kemmitt SJ, Wright D, Goulding KWT, Jones DL (2006) pH regulation of carbon and nitrogen dynamics in two agricultural soils. Soil Biol Biochem 38:898–911

  19. Kinraide TB, Parker DR (1987) Cation amelioration of aluminum toxicity in wheat. Plant Physiol 83:546–551

  20. Kretzschmar RM, Hafner H, Bationo A, Marschner H (1991) Long-and short-term effects of crop residues on aluminum toxicity, phosphorus availability and growth of pearl millet in an acid sandy soil. Plant Soil 136:215–223

  21. Lear G, Harbottle MJ, van der Gast CJ, Jackman SA, Knowles CJ, Sills G, Thompson IP (2004) The effect of electrokinetics on soil microbial communities. Soil Biol Biochem 36:1751–1760

  22. Lee CH, Park KD, Jung KY, Ali MA, Lee D, Gutierrez J, Kim PJ (2010) Effect of Chinese milk vetch (Astragalus sinicus L.) as a green manure on rice productivity and methane emission in paddy soil. Agric Ecosyst Environ 138:343–347

  23. Lenka NK, Lal R (2013) Soil aggregation and greenhouse gas flux after 15 years of wheat straw and fertilizer management in a no–till system. Soil Tillage Res 126:78–89

  24. Luo QS, Zhang XH, Wang H, Qian Y (2005) Mobilization of phenol and dichlorophenol in unsaturated soils by non-uniform electrokinetics. Chemosphere 59:1289–1298

  25. Ma JF (2000) Role of organic acids in detoxification of aluminum in higher plants. Plant Cell Physiol 41:383–390

  26. Mao J, Xu RK, Li JY, Li XH (2010) Dicyandiamide enhances liming potential of two legume materials when incubated with an acid Ultisol. Soil Biol Biochem 42:1632–1635

  27. Muhrizal S, Shamshuddin J, Husni MHA, Fauziah I (2003) Alleviation of aluminum toxicity in an acid sulfate soil in Malaysia using organic materials. Commun Soil Sci Plant 34:2993–3011

  28. Naramabuye FX, Haynes RJ (2006) Effect of organic amendments on soil pH and Al solubility and use of laboratory indices to predict their liming effect. Soil Sci 171:754–763

  29. Navas M, Benito M, Rodríguez I, Masaguer A (2011) Effect of five forage legume covers on soil quality at the Eastern plains of Venezuela. Appl Soil Ecol 49:242–249

  30. Nicol GW, Leininger S, Schleper C, Prosser JI (2008) The influence of soil pH on the diversity, abundance and transcriptional activity of ammonia oxidizing archaea and bacteria. Environ Microbiol 10:2966–2978

  31. O’Connor GE, Evans J, Black S, Fettell N, Orchard B, Theo R (2010) Influence of agronomic management of legume crops on soil accumulation with nitrate. Nutr Cycl Agroecosyst 86:269–286

  32. Odunze AC (2003) Effect of forage legume incorporation on selected soil chemical properties in the northern Guinea Savanna of Nigeria. J Sustain Agric 22:101–112

  33. Pal S, Datta SC, Reza SK (2011) Interrelationship of organic acids and aluminum concentrations in rhizosphere and nonrhizosphere soil solution of rice in acidic soil. Commun Soil Sci Plant 42:932–944

  34. Pypers P, Verstraete S, Thi CP, Merckx R (2005) Changes in mineral nitrogen, phosphorus availability and salt-extractable aluminium following the application of green manure residues in two weathered soils of South Vietnam. Soil Biol Biochem 37:163–172

  35. Rengel Z (1992) Role of calcium in aluminium toxicity. New Phytol 121:499–513

  36. Ruan J, Ma L, Shi Y, Zhang F (2004) Effects of litter incorporation and nitrogen fertilization on the contents of extractable aluminium in the rhizosphere soil of tea plant (Camallia sinensis (L.) O. Kuntze). Plant Soil 263:283–296

  37. Rudebeck A, Persson T (1998) Nitrification in organic and mineral soil layers in coniferous forests in response to acidity. Environ Pollut 102:377–383

  38. Shamshuddin J, Muhrizal S, Fauziah I, Husni MHA (2004) Effects of adding organic materials to an acid sulfate soil on the growth of cocoa (Theobroma cacao L.) seedlings. Sci Total Environ 323:33–45

  39. Sharma AR, Behera UK (2009) Nitrogen contribution through Sesbania green manure and dual-purpose legumes in maize–wheat cropping system: agronomic and economic considerations. Plant Soil 325:289–304

  40. Silva IR, Smyth TJ, Raper CD, Carter TE, Rufty TW (2001) Differential aluminum tolerance in soybean: an evaluation of the role of organic acids. Physiol Plant 112:200–210

  41. Sparling GP, Zhu CY, Fillery IRP (1996) Microbial immobilization of 15N from legume residues in soils of differing textures: measurement by persulphate oxidation and ammonia diffusion methods. Soil Biol Biochem 28:1707–1715

  42. Suzuki I, Dular U, Kwok SC (1974) Ammonia or ammonium ion as substrate for oxidation by Nitrosomonas europaea cells and extracts. J Bacteriol 120:556–558

  43. Tang C, Yu Q (1999) Impact of chemical composition of legume residues and initial soil pH on pH change of a soil after residue incorporation. Plant Soil 215:29–38

  44. Tang C, Sparling GP, McLay CDA, Raphael C (1999) Effect of short-term legume residue decomposition on soil acidity. Aust J Soil Res 37:561–573

  45. Tiedje JM (1988) Ecology of denitrification and dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonium. In: Zehnder AJB (ed) Biology of anaerobic microorganism. Wiley, New York, pp 179–244

  46. Tietema A, Warmerdam B, Lenting E, Riemer L (1992) Abiotic factors regulating nitrogen transformations in the organic layer of acid forest soils: moisture and pH. Plant Soil 147:69–78

  47. Wang QY, Zhou DM, Cang L, Sun TR (2009) Application of bioassays to evaluate a copper contaminated soil before and after a pilot-scale electrokinetic remediation. Environ Pollut 157:410–416

  48. Wick LY, Buchholz F, Fetzer I, Kleinsteuber S, Härtig C, Shi L, Miltner A, Harms H, Pucci GN (2010) Responses of soil microbial communities to weak electric fields. Sci Total Environ 408:4886–4893

  49. Xiao KC, Xu JM, Tang C, Zhang JB, Brookes PC (2013) Differences in carbon and nitrogen mineralization in soils of differing initial pH induced by electrokinesis and receiving crop residue amendments. Soil Biol Biochem 67:70–84

  50. Xu RK, Coventry DR (2003) Soil pH changes associated with lupin and wheat plant materials incorporated in a red-brown earth soil. Plant Soil 250:113–119

  51. Xu JM, Tang C, Chen ZL (2006) The role of plant residues in pH change of acid soils differing in initial pH. Soil Biol Biochem 38:709–719

  52. Xu SX, Shi XZ, Zhao YC, Yu DS, Li CS, Wang SH, Tan MZ, Sun WX (2011) Carbon sequestration potential of recommended management practices for paddy soils of China, 1980–2050. Geoderma 166:206–213

  53. Yan F, Schubert S, Mengel K (1996a) Soil pH increase due to biological decarboxylation of organic anions. Soil Biol Biochem 28:617–624

  54. Yan F, Schubert S, Mengel K (1996b) Soil pH changes during legume growth and application of plant material. Biol Fertil Soils 23:236–242

  55. Yuan JH, Xu RK, Qian W, Wang RH (2011) Comparison of the ameliorating effects on an acidic ultisol between four crop straws and their biochars. J Soils Sediments 11:741–750

  56. Zhu B, Yi LX, Guo LM, Chen G, Hu YG, Tang HM, Xiao CF, Xiao XP, Yang GL, Acharya SN, Zeng ZH (2012) Performance of two winter cover crops and their impacts on soil properties and two subsequent rice crops in Dongting Lake Plain, Hunan, China. Soil Tillage Res 124:95–101

Download references


This work was supported by the National Basic Research Program of China (2011CB100502, 2014CB441003).

Author information

Correspondence to Jianming Xu.

Additional information

Responsible editor: Woo-Jung Choi

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Xiao, K., Yu, L., Xu, J. et al. pH, nitrogen mineralization, and KCl-extractable aluminum as affected by initial soil pH and rate of vetch residue application: results from a laboratory study. J Soils Sediments 14, 1513–1525 (2014).

Download citation


  • Acid soil
  • Al toxicity
  • Initial soil pH
  • Legume residue
  • Nitrification
  • Rate of residue application