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Effects of fertilization practices on aluminum fractions and species in a wheat soil



To better understand the effect of fertilizer practices on soil acidification and soil organic matter (SOM) stocks in a rice-wheat system, a field experiment was conducted to (i) investigate the influence of fertilizer practices on the Al forms in solid phases and the distribution of Al species in water extracts and (ii) explore the relationship between the Al forms, the quantity and composition of SOM, and soil acidity.

Materials and methods

Seven fertilizer treatments including CL (no fertilizer), NK, PK, NPK, N2PK (PK and 125 % of N), NP2K (NK and 125 % of P), and organic fertilizer (OF) were applied to induce various changes in pH and SOM composition (i.e., total C and N contents, C/N ratio, and SOM recalcitrant indices) in a rice-wheat system. After 6-year cultivation, different pools of Al forms (i.e., amorphous Al; organically bound Al of varying stability; exchangeable Al; water-soluble inorganic Al3+, Al-OH, Al-F, Al-SiO3, and Al-SO4; and organic Al monomers) were quantified and related with SOM composition and soil pH during the wheat phase.

Results and discussion

Fertilizer types significantly changed soil pH and SOM composition and which explained 84 % of the variance of Al forms using redundancy analysis. An interaction between soil pH and SOM quality on Al forms also existed but only accounted for a very small (6 %) portion of the variation. Compared to CL and chemical fertilizer, OF practice with relative low SOM stabilization is likely to favor the formation of amorphous Al in order to bind more SOM. The decrease in exchangeable acidity and water-extractable Al via hydroxyl-Al precipitation but not in the form of organo-aluminum complexes evidenced this phenomenon. In contrast, chemical fertilizer input increased exchangeable Al and water extract Al (especially Al3+), partly at the expense of organically bound Al. The destabilization of organic-aluminum complexes was a mechanism of pH buffering evidenced by the increased soluble Al-dissolved organic matter (DOM) as soil pH decreases. Further, the magnitude of this trend was much greater for elevated N input compared with P input.


Chemical fertilizer with relative high SOM stabilization favored the formation of exchangeable Al and soluble Al resulting in soil acidification, whereas OF with relative low SOM stabilization tended to transform exchangeable Al and soluble Al to amorphous Al, thereby alleviating soil acidification and enhancing C stocks in a rice-wheat system.

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This work was supported by the National Natural Science Funds of China (No. 41401336), Natural Science Funds of Jiang Su Province, China (No. BK20130105), Research Fund of State Key Laboratory of Soil and Sustainable Agriculture, Chinese Academy of Science (No. Y412201452), and Environmental Protection Public Benefit Research Foundation of China (No. 201309036).

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Correspondence to Lei Wang or Yunguan Xi.

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Responsible editor: Claudio Bini

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Wang, L., Butterly, C.R., Tian, W. et al. Effects of fertilization practices on aluminum fractions and species in a wheat soil. J Soils Sediments 16, 1933–1943 (2016).

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  • Al transformation
  • Carbon stocks
  • Rice-wheat system
  • Soil acidification
  • Soil organic matter composition