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Mineralization of plant residues and native soil carbon as affected by soil fertility and residue type

  • Soils, Sec 4 • Ecotoxicology • Research Article
  • Published:
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Abstract

Purpose

Crop residue return is an effective and low-cost agricultural approach for soil organic carbon (SOC) sequestration. Yet, it is largely unknown to what extent the soil fertility and residue type affect the mineralization of maize (Zea mays L.) residue carbon (C) and the decomposition of native SOC. Therefore, a better understanding of the mineralization of C derived from residues and its priming on native SOC is crucial to accurate assessment of the benefits of crop residue returning in agricultural systems.

Materials and methods

A 360-day laboratory incubation experiment was carried out with a Cambisol of low and high fertilities amended with three types of 13C-labeled maize residues (root, stem, leaf). The abundance of 13C (δ13C) in the soil samples was measured during different incubation stages.

Results and discussion

The results showed that the total mineralization of residue C was significantly higher in the low fertility soil than in the high fertility soil, but there were no significant differences among residue types. For the high fertility soil, all the residue types induced a negative priming on native SOC mineralization during the early incubation stage, but a significant total positive priming by the end of incubation, whereas for the low fertility soil, there was no significant effect of residue return on SOC mineralization. The accumulated priming by the end of incubation did not vary across residue types. Moreover, the sum of mineralization of residue C and native SOC in the high fertility soil was 1.4 times as large as that in the low fertility soil.

Conclusions

We conclude that mineralization of crop residue C and native SOC is affected by soil fertility rather than residue type.

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Acknowledgements

We thank Prof. Markus Flury of Washington State University for helpful comments and polishing the language. We also thank two anonymous reviewers for their helpful and constructive comments on an earlier version.

Funding

This study was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant numbers, 41601307, 41671293).

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Correspondence to Fan Ding.

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Responsible editor: Dong-Mei Zhou

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Xu, Y., Ding, F., Gao, X. et al. Mineralization of plant residues and native soil carbon as affected by soil fertility and residue type. J Soils Sediments 19, 1407–1415 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11368-018-2152-7

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11368-018-2152-7

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