Skip to main content

Corn straw return can increase labile soil organic carbon fractions and improve water-stable aggregates in Haplic Cambisol

Abstract

Corn straw return to the field is a vital agronomic practice for increasing soil organic carbon (SOC) and its labile fractions, as well as soil aggregates and organic carbon (OC) associated with water-stable aggregates (WSA). Moreover, the labile SOC fractions play an important role in OC turnover and sequestration. The aims of this study were to determine how different corn straw returning modes affect the contents of labile SOC fractions and OC associated with WSA. Corn straw was returned in the following depths: (1) on undisturbed soil surface (NTS), (2) in the 0–10 cm soil depth (MTS), (3) in the 0–20 cm soil depth (CTS), and (4) no corn straw applied (CK). After five years (2014–2018), soil was sampled in the 0–20 and 20–40 cm depths to measure the water-extractable organic C (WEOC), permanganate oxidizable C (KMnO4-C), light fraction organic C (LFOC), and WSA fractions. The results showed that compared with CK, corn straw amended soils (NTS, MTS and CTS) increased SOC content by 11.55%–16.58%, WEOC by 41.38%–51.42%, KMnO4-C and LFOC by 29.84%–34.09% and 56.68%–65.36% in the 0–40 cm soil depth. The LFOC and KMnO4-C were proved to be the most sensitive fractions to different corn straw returning modes. Compared with CK, soils amended with corn straw increased mean weight diameter by 24.24%–40.48% in the 0–20 cm soil depth. The NTS and MTS preserved more than 60.00% of OC in macro-aggregates compared with CK. No significant difference was found in corn yield across all corn straw returning modes throughout the study period, indicating that adoption of NTS and MTS would increase SOC content and improve soil structure, and would not decline crop production.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  • Benbi D K, Brar K, Toor A S, et al. 2015. Sensitivity of labile soil organic carbon pools to long-term fertilizer, straw and manure management in rice-wheat system. Pedosphere, 25(4): 534–545.

    Google Scholar 

  • Blair G J, Lefroy R D, Lisle L. 1994. Soil carbon fractions based on their degree of oxidation, and the development of a carbon management index for agricultural systems. Australian Journal of Agricultural Research, 46(7): 1459–1466.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bongiorno G, Bünrmann E L, Oguejiofor C U, et al. 2019. Sensitivity of labile carbon fractions to tillage and organic matter management and their potential as comprehensive soil quality indicators across pedoclimatic conditions in Europe. Ecological Indicators, 99: 38–50.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bremner J M, Mulvaney C S. 1982. Nitrogen-total. In: Page A L. Methods of Soil Analyses. Chemical and Microbiological Properties (2nd ed.). Madison: Soil Scicence Society of America, 539–579.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cambardella A A, Elliott E T. 1992. Particulate soil organic matter changes across a grassland cultivation sequence. Soil Science Society of American Journal, 56(3): 777–783.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Changtingny M H, Curtin D, Beare M H, et al. 2010. Influence of temperature on water-extractable organic matter and ammonium production in mineral soils. Soil Science Society of American Journal, 74(2): 517–524.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Chen H Q, Hou R X, Gong Y S, et al. 2009. Effects of 11 years of conservation tillage on soil organic matter fractions in wheat monoculture in Loess Plateau of China. Soil Tillage Research, 106(1): 85–94.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Chen Z H, Wang X, Liu X, et al. 2017. Changes in soil microbial community and organic carbon fractions under short-term straw return in a rice-wheat cropping system. Soil Tillage Research, 165: 121–127.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Culman S W, Snapp S S, Freeman M A, et al. 2012. Permanganate oxidizable carbon reflects a processed soil fraction that is sensitive to management. Soil Science Society of American Journal, 76: 494–504.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dikgwatlhe S B, Kong F L, Chen Z D, et al. 2014. Tillage and residue management effects on temporal changes in soil organic carbon and fractions of a silty loam soil in the North China Plain. Soil Use and Management, 30(4): 496–506.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Elliott E T. 1986. Aggregate structure and carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus in native and cultivated soils. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 50(3): 627–633.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gao L L, Wang B S, Li S P, et al. 2019. Soil wet aggregate distribution and pore size distribution under different tillage systems after 16 years in the Loess Plateau of China. CATENA, 173: 38–47.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gregorich E G, Carter M R, Angers D A, et al. 1994. Towards a minimum data set to assess soil organic matter quality in agricultural soils. Canadian Journal of Soil Science, 74: 367–385.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kemper W D, Rosenau R C. 1986. Aggregate stability and size distribution. In: Klute A. Methods of Soil Analysis. Part 1. Physical and Mineralogical Methods. Madison: Soil Scicence Society of America, (9): 425–440.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kubar K A, Huang L, Lu J, et al. 2018. Integrative effects of no-tillage and straw returning on soil organic carbon and water stable aggregation under rice- rape rotation. Chilean Journal of Agricultural Research, 78(2): 206–215.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Li J, Wen Y C, Li X H, et al. 2018. Soil labile organic carbon fractions and soil organic carbon stocks as affected by long-term organic and mineral fertilization regimes in the North China Plain. Soil Tillage Research, 175: 281–290.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Mi W H, Sun Y, Zhao C, et al. 2019. Soil organic carbon and its labile fractions in paddy soil as influenced by water regimes and straw management. Agricultural Water Management, 224: 105752.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ndzelu B S, Dou S, Zhang X. 2020. Changes in soil humus composition and humic acid structural characteristics under different corn straw returning modes. Soil Research, 58(5): 452–460.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Okalebo J R, Gathua K W, Woomer P L. 2002. Laboratory Methods of Soil and Plant Analysis: A Working Manual (2nd ed.). Nairobi: TSBF Program UNESCO-ROSTA Soil Science Society of East Africa Technical Publication No. 1, 1–127.

    Google Scholar 

  • Oldfield E E, Bradford M A, Wood S A. 2019. Global meta-analysis of the relationship between soil organic matter and crop yields. Soil, 5: 15–32.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pittelkow C M, Linquist B A, Lundy M E, et al. 2015. When does no-till yield more? A global meta-analysis. Field Crops Research, 183: 156–168.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pu C, Kan Z R, Liu P, et al. 2019. Residue management induced changes in soil organic carbon and total nitrogen under different tillage practices in the North China Plain. Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 18(6): 1337–1347.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Si P F, Liu E K, He W Q, et al. 2018. Effect of no-tillage with straw mulch and conventional tillage on soil organic carbon pools in Northern China. Archives of Agronomy and Soil Science, 64(3): 398–408.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sithole N J, Magwaza L S, Thibaud G R. 2019. Long-term impact of no-till conservation agriculture and N-fertilizer on soil aggregate stability, infiltration and distribution of C in different size fractions. Soil Tillage Research, 190: 147–156.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Six J, Conant R T, Paul E A, et al. 2002. Stabilization mechanisms of soil organic matter: Implications for C-saturation of soils. Plant and Soil, 241(2): 155–176.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Song K, Zheng X Q, Lv W G, et al. 2019. Effects of tillage and straw return on water-stable aggregates, carbon stabilization and crop yield in an estuarine alluvial soil. Scientific Reports, 9(1): 4586. doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-40908-9.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Song Z W, Gao H J, Zhu P, et al. 2015. Organic amendments increase corn yield by enhancing soil resilience to climate change. The Crop Journal, 3(2): 110–117.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sun C Y, Liu J S, Wang Y, et al. 2012. Effects of long-term cultivation on soil organic carbon fractions and metal distribution in humic and lulvic acid in black soil, Northeast China. Soil Research, 50: 562–569.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Swanepoel C M, Rötter R P, van der Laan M, et al. 2018. The benefits of conservation agriculture on soil organic carbon and yield in southern Africa are site-specific. Soil Tillage Research, 183: 72–82.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Vance E D, Brookes P C, Jenkinson D S. 1987. An extraction method for measuring soil microbial biomass C. Soil Biology Biochemistry, 19(6): 703–707.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Xue B, Huang L, Huang Y N, et al. 2019. Effects of organic carbon and iron oxides on soil aggregate stability under different tillage systems in a rice-rape cropping system. CATENA, 177: 1–12.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Yang X Y, Ren W D, Sun B H, et al. 2012. Effects of contrasting soil management regimes on total and labile soil organic carbon fractions in a loess soil in China. Geoderma, 177–178: 49–56.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Zhang X, Dou S, Ndzelu B S, et al. 2020. Effects of different corn straw amendments on humus composition and structural characteristics of humic acid in black soil. Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis, 51(1): 107–117.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Zhang Y, Li X J, Gregorich E G, et al. 2019. Evaluating storage and pool size of soil organic carbon in degraded soils: Tillage effects when crop residue is returned. Soil Tillage Research, 192: 215–221.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

The study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (42077022) and the Key Research and Development Program of Jilin Province (20200402098NC).

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Sen Dou.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Ndzelu, B.S., Dou, S. & Zhang, X. Corn straw return can increase labile soil organic carbon fractions and improve water-stable aggregates in Haplic Cambisol. J. Arid Land 12, 1018–1030 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40333-020-0024-7

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s40333-020-0024-7

Keywords

  • aggregate-size distribution
  • corn straw return
  • corn yield
  • labile soil organic carbon fractions
  • Haplic Cambisol