Soil clay content is one of the primary intrinsic soil properties affecting soil erodibility, but few studies have tested the effects of clay amendment on soil wind erosion. The objective of this study was therefore to evaluate the effect of progressive clay amendment on soil wind erosion in the inland Pacific Northwest (iPNW), where there is a high soil erodibility risk due to the arid and semi-arid environment. Clay amendment significantly increased crust crushing energy when physical soil crusts formed after simulated rainfall. Crusts were then subject to simulated tillage to create an erodible soil surface before determining wind erosion in a wind tunnel. Soil loss significantly decreased with increasing clay amendment, even for low clay amendments (2%). In addition, the rate of change in erosion decreased with increasing amounts of clay amendment. Clay amendment was more effective in decreasing soil loss for two sandy loams or soil types with lower clay content. Clay amendment decreased soil loss primarily due to its impact on increasing aggregate geometric mean diameter (GMD), but aggregate crushing energy is also important in decreasing soil loss in terms of decreasing abrasion flux. Clay amendment is thus an effective way to restrain land deterioration in terms of increasing crust crushing energy, aggregate GMD, and decreasing abrasion flux.
Extreme droughts of increased frequency due to climate change poses great challenges to the sustainability of plantations in drylands worldwide. Millions of plantations on China’s Loess Plateau which are mainly in drylands are threatened by serious degradation due to water scarcity. Here we aim to disentangle the impacts of combinations of terracing and mulching on water use strategy and its response to extreme droughts in a rainfed jujube (Ziziphus jujuba) plantation on the semiarid Loess Plateau, using three-year in situ field observations. Pruned jujube branches and maize straw were mulched on half-moon terraces to form two combined treatments, referred to as JBT and MST, respectively. The efficacy of these two combinations on the water use strategy of jujube trees was compared with terracing alone (SHT) and control (no terrace). We found that extreme drought clearly reduced soil water storage (SWS) under all treatments. However, the combined treatments showed significantly (P<0.05) higher SWS than the SHT and control. Furthermore, the combined treatments enhanced soil water use in deep layers during both normal and drought years, thus helping jujube trees to resist droughts. Moreover, the extreme drought significantly reduced transpiration whereas the moderate drought increased transpiration at both seasonal and annual scales. Nonetheless, the combined treatments were associated with enhanced transpiration compared to the SHT and control during drought periods. Finally, jujube trees exhibited isohydric behavior which also helped them to cope with prolonged droughts. Overall, the findings here may provide insights into land management of dryland plantations worldwide under climate change.
Satellite-based solar-induced chlorophyll fluorescence (SIF) has the potential for an early detection and accurate impact assessment of meteorological drought on vegetation photosynthesis. However, how the response of satellite SIF to meteorological drought varies under different climatic conditions and biome types remains poorly understood. In this study, we determined the drought time-scale at which the vegetation photosynthesis response was highest based on the standardized precipitation evapotranspiration index (SPEI) and satellite SIF, and examined how the sensitivity of SIF signals from different ecosystems to drought varied along an aridity gradient in northern China. The results showed that spatial variability of the annual maximum SIF was constrained by wetness conditions and biome types. Annual maximum SIF was positively correlated with SPEI in 57.9% of vegetated lands (P < 0.05). 34.8% of humid ecosystems were characterized by a significant SIF-SPEI correlation (P < 0.05). This percentage reached 44%, 71.4% and 86.2% for arid, sub-humid and semi-arid ecosystems, respectively. The variation of SIF-SPEI correlations was a Gaussian function of the aridity index (AI), with the highest SIF-SPEI correlation appearing in the AI bin of 0.4 (0.37-0.46). The drivers for this pattern were vegetation composition and water availability. The variation of SIF time-scales in response to SPEI was a linear function of the AI, but the slope varied among biomes. To summarize with increasing aridity drought-induced declines in vegetation photosynthesis will be quicker and more significant.
Microbial biomass (MB) production and turnover strongly affect soil organic carbon (SOC) accumulation. Microbial carbon use efficiency (CUE) and MB turnover in paddy soil were determined using a novel substrate-independent H218O labeling approach and the effect of long-term fertilization with mineral (NPK) or combined (NPK+OM (manure)) amendments in 0-10, 10-20, and 20-30 cm depths were investigated. Long-term fertilization increased microbial C uptake, CUE, and growth rates, and all indexes were the highest in the NPK+OM treatment. The CUE ranged between 0.07 and 0.23 and showed variable behavior with depth: it reduced in the control treatment, indicating that more C was allocated to energy production than biomass growth, and increased in fertilized soils, showing the shift of C usage for biomass growth. The highest CUE was observed at 20-30 cm in NPK and NPK+OM and indicated that microorganisms overcome the nutrient deficiency in deep soil layers by keeping high C uptake rates at a constant CUE. MBC turnover was more rapid in NPK (10-70 d) and NPK+OM (40-65 d) compared to control (80 d) and intensified with the depth. These findings highlight that under long-term fertilization MB turnover can be controlled by CUE. These shifts in the strategies of microorganisms functioning can explain the accumulation of SOC in heavily fertilized paddy soils.
Excessive salts in soil inhibit enzyme activity, decrease microbial growth and constrain biochemical functioning, which could be alleviated by soil management and fertilization. However, the effect of consecutive chemical fertilizer on soil bacterial community structure under saline environment is poorly understood. Here, a field randomized block design under four nitrogen fertilization rates (0, 150, 300, and 450 kg N hm-2 y-1) was conducted on coastal salt-affected Fluvo-aquic soil. Effect of nitrogen fertilization rates on soil properties and bacterial community was characterized using Illumina Miseq sequencing for 16S rRNA gene. Results indicated that consecutive chemical N fertilization accelerated the improvement of soil chemical and microbial properties under the paddy rice - winter wheat rotation. Soil bacterial community well responded to the nitrogen fertilization and community richness and diversity increased with the nitrogen rates. Predominant bacterial phyla belonged to Proteobacteria, Chloroflexi, Acidobacteria, Actinobacteria and Planctomycetes, whereas Deltaproteobacteria, Anaerolineae, Alphaproteobacteria, Betaproteobacteria, Gammaproteobacteria, Actinobacteria and Planctomycetia were dominant bacterial classes. Increasing nitrogen fertilization resulted in an elevation in the relative abundance of classes Alphaproteobacteria, Gammaproteobacteria, Planctomycetia and Nitrospira, and a decline in Anaerolineae, Acidobacteria_Gp6, Cytophagia, Bacilli and Acidobacteria_Gp10. Clear separations in the bacterial communities at class level were observed under different nitrogen fertilization rates. Community structure of classes Alphaproteobacteria, Planctomycetia and Nitrospira was significantly influenced by potential nitrification rate (PNR), and community structure of class Actinobacteria was significantly influenced by carbon mineralization rate (CMR). The results demonstrated that nitrogen fertilization improved nutrients and metabolic activities to more suitable bacterial microhabitats for saline soil.