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Effect of Phosphorus Fertiliser on Soil Organic Matter Composition of Hill Country Pasture

Soil organic matter is important as storage for carbon and nutrients, supporting soil structure, and as a filter for pollutants entering the soil ecosystem. The recovery of soil organic matter in depleted soils can take decades, or even hundreds of years. It has been assumed that in non-eroding pasture, soil carbon levels either increase or not change over time. However, some recent studies have suggested that fertiliser addition to pasture soils may contribute to decreases in soil carbon content. My hypotheses were: 1. As P fertiliser loadings increase the soil carbon content and C:N ratio will decrease. 2. Changes in C pools will be greater in the more active pool (readily available carbon, and microbial biomass carbon) within the soil total carbon The study was undertaken at a long term fertiliser trial, established in 1980, at the Whatawhata Hill Country Research Station west of Hamilton, New Zealand. The fertiliser trial has P fertiliser application rates maintained since 1984. Olsen P, total C, total N, labile carbon, respirable carbon, specific respiration rate, microbial biomass C, microbial quotient, mineralised N, microbial biomass N, microbial N quotient, and mineralised N per microbial biomass nitrogen, C:N ratio, and soil pH were measured on soil samples collected from 12 paddocks with six P fertiliser loading (0, 10, 20, 30, 50, 100 kg P ha⁻¹ yr⁻¹). As expected, the available P (Olsen P) increased significantly (P less than 0.001) with increasing P fertiliser application rate. Total carbon, labile carbon, and total nitrogen all decreased significantly (P less than 0.05) with increasing P fertiliser application. No significant relationships were found between P fertiliser and respirable carbon, microbial carbon, microbial (C) quotient, microbial specific respiration, microbial nitrogen, microbial (N) quotient, mineralised N, or C:N ratio. The first hypothesis was rejected as the C:N ratio did not change with increased P fertiliser application. However, both C and N decreased with increased P fertiliser application. The second hypothesis was, therefore, accepted in part because there was a decrease in labile carbon (readily available carbon) and total carbon, with P fertiliser application, but no relationship was evident for the respirable carbon and microbial biomass.
Type of thesis
Binoka, D. T. (2008). Effect of Phosphorus Fertiliser on Soil Organic Matter Composition of Hill Country Pasture (Thesis, Master of Science (MSc)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/2225
The University of Waikato
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