Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems

, Volume 51, Issue 2, pp 123–137 | Cite as

Influence of lime, fertilizer and manure applications on soil organic matter content and soil physical conditions: a review

  • R.J. Haynes
  • R. Naidu


The effects of lime, fertilizer and manure applications on soil organic matter status and soil physical properties are of importance to agricultural sustainability. Their effects are complex and many interactions can occur. In the short-term, liming can result in dispersion of clay colloids and formation of surface crusts. As pH is increased the surface negative charge on clay colloids increases and repulsive forces between particles dominate. However, at higher lime rates, Ca2+ concentrations and ionic strength in soil solution increase causing compression of the electrical double layer and renewed flocculation. When present in sufficient quantities, both lime and hydroxy-Al polymers formed by precipitation of exchangeable Al, can act as cementing agents bonding soil particles together and improving soil structure. Liming often causes a temporary flush of soil microbial activity but the effect of this on soil aggregation is unclear. It is suggested that, in the long-term, liming will increase crop yields, organic matter returns, soil organic matter content and thus soil aggregation. There is a need to study these relationships on existing long-term liming trials.

Fertilizers are applied to soils in order to maintain or improve crop yields. In the long-term, increased crop yields and organic matter returns with regular fertilizer applications result in a higher soil organic matter content and biological activity being attained than where no fertilizers are applied. As a result, long-term fertilizer applications have been reported, in a number of cases, to cause increases in water stable aggregation, porosity, infiltration capacity and hydraulic conductivity and decreases in bulk density. Fertilizer additions can also have physico-chemical effects which influence soil aggregation. Phosphatic fertilizers and phosphoric acid can favour aggregation by the formation of Al or Ca phosphate binding agents whilst where fertilizer NH4+ accumulates in the soil at high concentrations, dispersion of clay colloids can be favoured.

Additions of organic manures result in increased soil organic matter content. Many reports have shown that this results in increased water holding capacity, porosity, infiltration capacity, hydraulic conductivity and water stable aggregation and decreased bulk density and surface crusting. Problems associated with large applications of manure include dispersion caused by accumulated K+, Na+ and NH4+ in the soil and production of water-repellant substances by decomposer fungi.

dispersion fertilizers flocculation lime manures soil organic matter soil physical properties 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • R.J. Haynes
    • 1
  • R. Naidu
    • 2
  1. 1.Canterbury Agriculture and Science CentreNew Zealand Institute of Crop & Food ResearchChristchurchNew Zealand
  2. 2.CSIRO Division of Soils and the Cooperative Research Centre for Soil and Land ManagementGlen OsmondAustralia

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