Decadal shifts in soil pH and organic matter differ between land uses in contrasting regions in China

Sun, Y. and Guo, G. and Shi, H. and Liu, M. and Keith, A. and Li, H. and Jones, K.C. (2020) Decadal shifts in soil pH and organic matter differ between land uses in contrasting regions in China. Science of the Total Environment, 740. ISSN 0048-9697

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Soil organic matter (SOM) and pH are critical soil properties strongly linked to carbon storage, nutrient cycling and crop productivity. Land use is known to have a dominant impact on these key soil properties, but we often lack the ability to examine temporal trajectories across extensive spatial scales. Large-scale monitoring programmes provide the data to evaluate these longer-term changes, and under different climatic conditions. This study used data from Chinese soil surveys to examine changes in soil pH and SOM across different land uses (dry farmland, paddy fields, grassland, woodland, unused land), with surface soil (0–20 cm) collected in the periods 1985–90 (Survey 1; 890 samples) and 2006–10 (Survey 2; 5005 samples) from two contrasting areas. In the southern part of China the mean pH of paddy soils fell sharply over the two decades between surveys - from pH 5.81 to 5.19 (p < 0.001), while dry farmlands in the northern sampling area fell slightly (from pH 8.15 to 7.82; p < 0.001). The mean SOM content of dry farmland soil rose in both areas and the mean SOM of paddy fields in the southern area also rose (all p < 0.001). Woodland soil pH in the south showed an increase from 4.71 to 5.29 (p < 0.001) but no significant difference was measured in the woodlands of the northern area, although the trend increased. The SOM content of woodland top soils rose in the northern (p = 0.003) and southern (p < 0.001) study areas. The implications and potential causes of these changes over the two decade timespan between surveys are discussed and suggestions made as to how large scale soil sampling campaigns can be designed to monitor for changes and potential controlling factors.

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Journal Article
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Science of the Total Environment
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This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Science of the Total Environment. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Science of the Total Environment, 740, 2020 DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.139904
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18 Aug 2020 11:35
Last Modified:
01 Oct 2020 03:53