The role of iron oxides in the preservation of soil organic matter under long-term fertilization

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this paper is to enlighten the role of highly reactive iron (Fe) minerals in soil organic carbon (SOC) preservation in soil aggregates.

Materials and methods

The effects of four long-term (37-year) fertilization regimes (NPK, chemical fertilization; NPKM, chemical fertilization + cattle manure; M, cattle manure; CK, non-fertilization control) on organic carbon (OC) stability, soil iron fractions in bulk soil, and soil aggregates were studied to characterize the capacity and mechanism of Fe minerals to preserve SOM in soil.

Results and discussion

Long-term fertilization significantly altered the Fe fractions in soil and soil aggregates. The two applications with manure (NPKM and M) increased the non-crystalline Fe content, while the chemical fertilizer (NPK) increased the crystalline Fe content. Besides, long-term fertilization with manure greatly increased the content of SOC and soil total nitrogen (STN). The non-crystalline Fe was positively correlated with the SOC content in both soil and soil aggregates. Meanwhile, the long-term fertilization treatments greatly changed the mass distribution and OC content of soil aggregates.

Conclusions

Long-term manure fertilization promoted the formation of non-crystalline Fe fractions, which bounds to SOC to form soil macro-aggregates. Thus, the formation of SOC-Fe association in soil and soil aggregates plays a crucial role in SOC preservation.

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Acknowledgments

We would like to thank the editor and two anonymous referees for their constructive suggestions which improve the manuscript greatly.

Funding

This work was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant no. 41201278), the National Department Public Benefit Research Foundation of China (grant no. 201203030), and the Fundamental Research Funds of Jiangsu Academy of Agricultural Sciences (program Name. ZX (16)-6001).

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Correspondence to Yongchun Zhang.

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Responsible editor: Claudio Zaccone

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Wang, P., Wang, J., Zhang, H. et al. The role of iron oxides in the preservation of soil organic matter under long-term fertilization. J Soils Sediments 19, 588–598 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11368-018-2085-1

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Keywords

  • Organo-mineral associations
  • Non-crystalline Fe
  • Soil aggregates
  • Soil organic carbon