Saturday, 15 July 2006

Managing Soil Quality for Agricultural Sustainability: A Review with Emphasis on Chinese Mollisols.

Xiaobing Liu1, Stephen J. Herbert2, A. M. Hashemi2, and Xingyi Zhang1. (1) Northeast Institute of Geography and Agroecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 138 Haping Road, Nangang District, Harbin, 150040, China, (2) Dept of Plant, Soil, and Insect Sciences, Univ of Massachusetts, 201 Natural Resources Road, Bowditvh Hall, Amherst, MA 01003

Public interest in soil quality increased rapidly throughout the world, and the maintenance of soil quality has been proposed as critical to agricultural and environmental sustainability. Soil Organic Carbon (SOC) is the most often reported attribute and is chosen as the most important indicator of soil quality and agronomic sustainability. In this review, we summarized internationally how cultivation, crop rotation, residue and tillage management, fertilization and monoculture affected soil quality, and thus agricultural sustainability with an emphasis on Chinese Mollisols. Results confirm that soil organic matter is not only a source of carbon but also a sink for carbon sequestration. Cultivation can reduce soil SOC content and lead to soil deterioration. Proper adoption of crop rotation can increase or maintain the quantity and quality of soil organic matter, and improve soil chemical and physical fertility. Tillage practices have a major effect on soil properties, distribution of C and N, and the rates of organic matter decomposition and N mineralization. Adequate application of fertilizers combined with farmyard manure could increase soil nutrients, and SOC content. Manure or crop residue alone could not maintain SOC levels. Crop types influence SOC, and soil function in their continuous monoculture systems. SOC can only be preserved by rotation with reduced tillage frequency and additions of chemical fertilizers and manure. Knowledge and assessment of changes (positive or negative) in its status with time is still needed to evaluate the impact of different management practices. Keywords: Soil organic carbon; crop rotation; soil tillage; fertilization; monoculture; agricultural sustainability.

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