Skip to main content Accessibility help

Effects of long-term fertilization on soil organic carbon content and aggregate composition under continuous maize cropping in Northeast China

  • Z. W. SONG (a1), P. ZHU (a2), H. J. GAO (a2), C. PENG (a2), A. X. DENG (a1), C. Y. ZHENG (a1), M. A. MANNAF (a3), M. N. ISLAM (a3) and W. J. ZHANG (a1)...


Fertilizer application can play an important role in soil organic carbon (SOC) retention and dynamics. The mechanisms underlying long-term accumulation and protection of SOC in intensive maize cropping systems, however, have not been well documented for cool high-latitude rainfed areas. Based on a 23-year fertilization experiment under a continuous maize cropping system at Gongzhuling, Jilin Province, China, the effects of fertilization regimes on SOC content and soil aggregate-associated carbon (C) composition were investigated. Results showed that, within the 0–1·0 m soil profile, SOC contents decreased significantly with soil depth in all treatments. In the topsoil layer (0–0·2 m), SOC concentrations in balanced inorganic fertilizers plus farmyard manure (MNPK), fallow system (FAL) and balanced inorganic fertilizers plus maize straw residue (SNPK) treatments were significantly greater than initial levels by 61·0, 34·1 and 20·1%, respectively. The MNPK and SNPK treatments increased SOC content by 50·7 and 12·4% compared to the unfertilized control in the topsoil layer, whereas no significant differences were found between balanced inorganic nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium fertilizers (NPK) and the unfertilized control treatment. There were no significant differences in aggregate-size distribution among the unfertilized control, NPK and MNPK treatments, whereas the SNPK treatment significantly enhanced the formation of micro-aggregates (53–250 μm) and decreased the formation of silt+clay aggregates (<53 μm) compared to the unfertilized control, NPK and MNPK treatments. Moreover, SOC concentrations in all aggregate fractions in the MNPK treatment were the highest among treatments. Furthermore, the MNPK treatment significantly increased SOC stock in micro- and silt+clay aggregates, which may slow down C decomposition in the soil. These results indicate that long-term manure amendment can benefit SOC sequestration and stability in the black soil of Northeast China.


Corresponding author

* To whom all correspondence should be addressed. Email:


Hide All
Allmaras, R. R., Linden, D. R. & Clapp, C. E. (2004). Corn-residue transformations into root and soil carbon as related to nitrogen, tillage, and stover management. Soil Science Society of America Journal 68, 13661375.
Beare, M. H., Hendrix, P. F. & Coleman, D. C. (1994). Water-stable aggregates and organic matter fractions in conventional- and no-tillage soils. Soil Science Society of America Journal 58, 777786.
Blair, N., Faulkner, R. D., Till, A. R., Korschens, M. & Schulz, E. (2006). Long-term management impacts on soil C, N and physical fertility: Part II. Bad Lauchstadt static and extreme FYM experiments. Soil & Tillage Research 91, 3947.
Blake, G. R. & Hartge, K. H. (1986). Bulk density. In Methods of Soil Analysis. Part 1. Physical & Mineralogical Methods second ed. (Ed. Klute, A.), pp. 363375. Madison, WI, USA: American Society of Agronomy.
Clapp, C. E., Allmaras, R. R., Layese, M. F., Linden, D. R. & Dowdy, R. H. (2000). Soil organic carbon and 13C abundance as related to tillage, crop residue, and nitrogen fertilization under continuous corn management in Minnesota. Soil & Tillage Research 55, 127142.
Fan, T., Stewart, B. A., Wang, Y., Luo, J. & Zhou, G. Y. (2005). Long-term fertilization effects on grain yield, water-use efficiency and soil fertility in the dryland of Loess Plateau in China. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 106, 313329.
Gregorich, E. G., Monreal, C. M. & Ellert, B. H. (1995). Turnover of soil organic matter and storage of corn residue carbon estimated from natural 13C abundance. Canadian Journal of Soil Science 75, 161167.
Guo, L. & Lin, E. (2001). Carbon sink in cropland soils and the emission of greenhouse gases from paddy soils: a review of work in China. Chemosphere – Global Change Science 3, 413418.
Hanway, J. J. (1963). Growth stages of corn (Zea mays, L.). Agronomy Journal 55, 487492.
Hassink, J. (1995). Decomposition rate constants of size and density fractions of soil organic matter. Soil Science Society of America Journal 59, 16311635.
Hassink, J. (1997). The capacity of soils to preserve organic C and N by their association with clay and silt particles. Plant and Soil 191, 7787.
Huang, S., Rui, W., Peng, X., Huang, Q. & Zhang, W. (2010). Organic carbon fractions affected by long-term fertilization in a subtropical paddy soil. Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems 86, 153160.
Huggins, D. R., Buyanovsky, G. A., Wagner, G. H., Brown, J. R., Darmody, R. G., Peck, T. R., Lesoing, G. W., Vanotti, M. B. & Bundy, L. G. (1998). Soil organic C in the tallgrass prairie-derived region of the corn belt: effects of long-term crop management. Soil & Tillage Research 47, 219234.
Jastrow, J. D., Amonette, J. E. & Bailey, V. L. (2007). Mechanisms controlling soil carbon turnover and their potential application for enhancing carbon sequestration. Climatic Change 80, 523.
Kanchikerimath, M. & Singh, D. (2001). Soil organic matter and biological properties after 26 years of maize–wheat–cowpea cropping as affected by manure and fertilization in a Cambisol in semiarid region of India. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 86, 155162.
Kou, T. J., Zhu, P., Huang, S., Peng, X. X., Song, Z. W., Deng, A. X., Gao, H. J., Peng, C. & Zhang, W. J. (2012). Effects of long-term cropping regimes on soil carbon sequestration and aggregate composition in rainfed farm land of Northeast China. Soil & Tillage Research 118, 132138.
Lal, R. (2004 a). Soil carbon sequestration impacts on global climate change and food security. Science 304, 16231627.
Lal, R. (2004 b). Agricultural activities and the global carbon cycle. Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems 70, 103116.
Li, Z., Liu, M., Wu, X., Han, F. & Zhang, T. (2010). Effects of long-term chemical fertilization and organic amendments on dynamics of soil organic C and total N in paddy soil derived from barren land in subtropical China. Soil and Tillage Research 106, 268274.
Liang, A., Yang, X., Zhang, X., McLaughlin, N., Shen, Y. & Li, W. (2009). Soil organic carbon changes in particle-size fractions following cultivation of Black soils in China. Soil and Tillage Research 105, 2126.
Liang, B. C., MacKenzie, A. F., Schnitzer, M., Monreal, C. M., Voroney, P. R. & Beyaert, R. P. (1998). Management-induced change in labile soil organic matter under continuous corn in eastern Canadian soils. Biology and Fertility of Soils 26, 8894.
Liu, D., Wang, Z., Zhang, B., Song, K., Li, X., Li, J., Li, F. & Duan, H. (2006). Spatial distribution of soil organic carbon and analysis of related factors in croplands of the black soil region, Northeast China. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 113, 7381.
Liu, X., Han, X., Song, C., Herbert, S. J. & Xing, B. S. (2003). Soil organic carbon dynamics in black soils of China under different agricultural management systems. Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis 34, 973984.
Madari, B., Machado, P. L. O. A., Torres, E., De Andrade, A. G. & Valencia, L. I. O. (2005). No tillage and crop rotation effects on soil aggregation and organic carbon in a Rhodic Ferralsol from southern Brazil. Soil and Tillage Research 80, 185200.
Melillo, J. M., Setudler, P. A., Aber, J. D., Newkirk, K., Lux, H., Bowles, F. P., Catricala, C., Magill, A., Ahrens, T. & Morrisseau, S. (2002). Soil warming and carbon-cycle feedbacks to the climate system. Science 298, 21732176.
Nair, P. K. R., Kumar, B. M. & Nair, V. D. (2009). Agroforestry as a strategy for carbon sequestration. Journal of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science 172, 1023.
Ogle, S. M., Breidt, F. J. & Paustian, K. (2005). Agricultural management impacts on soil organic carbon storage under moist and dry climatic conditions of temperate and tropical regions. Biogeochemistry 72, 87121.
Plante, A. F. & McGill, W. B. (2002). Soil aggregate dynamics and the retention of organic matter in laboratory-incubated soil with differing simulated tillage frequencies. Soil and Tillage Research 66, 7992.
Post, W. M. & Kwon, K. C. (2000). Soil carbon sequestration and land-use change: processes and potential. Global Change Biology 6, 317328.
Rudrappa, L., Purakayastha, T. J., Singh, D. & Bhadraray, S. (2006). Long-term manuring and fertilization effects on soil organic carbon pools in a Typic Haplustept of semi-arid sub-tropical India. Soil and Tillage Research 88, 180192.
Saggar, S., Yeates, G. W. & Shepherd, T. G. (2001). Cultivation effects on soil biological properties, microfauna and organic matter dynamics in Eutric Gleysol and Gleyic Luvisol soils in New Zealand. Soil and Tillage Research 58, 5568.
Six, J., Callewaert, P., Lenders, S., De Gryze, S., Morris, S. J., Gregorich, E. G., Paul, E. A. & Paustian, K. (2002 a). Measuring and understanding carbon storage in afforested soils by physical fractionation. Soil Science Society of America Journal 66, 19811987.
Six, J., Conant, R. T., Paul, E. A. & Paustian, K. (2002 b). Stabilization mechanisms of soil organic matter: implications for C-saturation of soils. Plant and Soil 241, 155176.
Six, J., Elliott, E. T. & Paustian, K. (2000 a). Soil macroaggregate turnover and microaggregate formation: a mechanism for C sequestration under no-tillage agriculture. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 32, 20992103.
Six, J., Paustian, K., Elliott, E. T. & Combrink, C. (2000 b). Soil structure and organic matter I. Distribution of aggregate-size classes and aggregate-associated carbon. Soil Science Society of America Journal 64, 681689.
Sun, Y., Huang, S., Yu, X. & Zhang, W. (2013). Stability and saturation of soil organic carbon in rice fields: evidence from a long-term fertilization experiment in subtropical China. Journal of Soils Sediments 13, 13271334.
Trumbore, S. E. & Czimczik, C. I. (2008). An uncertain future for soil carbon. Science 321, 14551456.
Whalen, J. K. & Chang, C. (2002). Macroaggregate characteristics in cultivated soils after 25 annual manure applications. Soil Science Society of America Journal 66, 16371647.
Yan, D., Wang, D., & Yang, L. (2007). Long-term effect of chemical fertilizer, straw, and manure on labile organic matter fractions in a paddy soil. Biology and Fertility of Soils 44, 93101.
Yang, X. M., Zhang, X. P., Fang, H. J., Zhu, P., Ren, J. & Wang, L. C. (2003). Long-term effects of fertilization on soil organic carbon changes in continuous corn of Northeast China: RothC model simulations. Environmental Management 32, 459465.
Yuan, Y. H., Li, H. X., Huang, Q. R., Hu, P. & Pan, G. X. (2004). Effects of different fertilization on soil organic carbon distribution and storage in micro-aggregates of red paddy topsoil. Acta Ecologica Sinica 24, 29612966. (in Chinese with English Summary)
Zhu, P., Ren, J., Wang, L., Zhang, X., Yang, X. & MacTavish, D. (2007). Long-term fertilization impacts on corn yields and soil organic matter on a clay-loam soil in Northeast China. Journal of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science 170, 219223.


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed