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A 10-year field experiment proves the neutralization of soil pH in Chinese hickory plantation of southeastern China



Stable soil pH is the key property to maintain soil biogeochemical balance, structure, and function stability of the terrestrial ecosystem. Understanding the soil pH change and its influencing factors is critical for maintaining soil quality and the sustainability of agricultural resources.

Materials and methods

In our study, 215 soil samples were collected using a paired comparison method from a typical hickory plantation region between 2008 and 2018 in southeastern China. The geostatistics and kriging interpolation method were used to evaluate the change in pH (CIP). The structural equation model (SEM) was combined to quantify the contribution of driving factors to CIP.

Results and discussion

The results suggested that the pH value of the soil had a significant neutralization effect which was manifested by increased pH value of the relatively acidic soil but decreased pH value of the relatively alkaline soil. The soil pH threshold (pHτ, the point at which the soil pH changes from positive to negative) was 5.96. The spatial distribution trend of pH between 2008 and 2018 was similar, while the local variation was different. Soil initial pH (IpH) was the most critical negative driving factor influencing CIP, while the mean annual temperature (MAT) and the mean annual precipitation (MAP) had positive effects on CIP. In addition, soil organic matter content (SOM) and bulk density were also important factors affecting CIP.


Our results indicated that long-term management could increase, decrease, or remain the soil pH value, with CIP mainly dependent on IpH, climatic factors, soil organic matter content, and bulk density. Lime, sod cultivation, and organic fertilizers are recommended to increase soil pH.

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This work was supported by Hangzhou Agriculture and social development research initiative design project (20172015A01).

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Authors and Affiliations



All authors contributed to the study conception and design. Sample collection and data analysis were performed by JJ and XH. The first draft of the manuscript was written by JJ. The final manuscript was critically revised by JW, WZ, and WF. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Jiasen Wu or Weijun Fu.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Responsible editor: Weixin Ding

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Jin, J., Huang, X., Wu, J. et al. A 10-year field experiment proves the neutralization of soil pH in Chinese hickory plantation of southeastern China. J Soils Sediments (2022).

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  • Long-term management
  • Change in pH
  • Initial pH
  • Climatic factor
  • Structural equation model
  • SOM