Effect of Land Use Change on Inorganic Phosphorus Pools In Loess Derived Soils of the Toshan Region, Golestan Province

Document Type : Research Article


Gorgan University of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources


Introduction: P in soils exists in many complex chemical forms, which differ markedly in their behavior, mobility and resistance to bioavailability in the soils. The total P content of a soil provides little information regarding the behavior of P in the environment. The various forms of P present to a large degree, determine the fate and transport of P in soils. Fractionation schemes using different chemical sequential extractions have been used in order to describe the many different forms in which P can be found in the soil. The reason for fractionating and studying P forms in the soil is usually to allow a more precise description of the potentials for P release from the soil. The forms and dynamics of soil P can be greatly affected by agricultural management practices. Since inorganic P is the preferred source for plant uptake, knowledge of the inorganic form within soils is fundamental to understanding bioavailability of P and sustainability of agricultural practice. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of land use change on the form and distribution of inorganic P using a sequential extraction procedure.
Materials and Methods: In order to study the impact of land-use change from forestland to cultivated land, composite samples in four replicates from the upper 10 cm of the different land use systems (natural forest, pasture, bower olive, farmland) were collected. We collected five subsamples from each land use in a radial sampling scheme. The five subsamples were then bulked into one sample. The spacing between the subsamples on the radii ranged from 5 to 10 m. The soil samples were transferred to polyethylene bags and transported to the laboratory where they were slightly crushed, passed through a 2 mm sieve prior to fractionation and chemical analysis. Soil texture, cation exchange capacity, organic carbon (OC), electrical conductivity, pH and calcium carbonate equivalent (CCE) were measured with standard methods. Total P and total inorganic P (Pi) contents were measured by the ignition method, for which P in the ignited (550 °C) and unignited soil samples were extracted by 0.5 M H2SO4. A modified version of the sequential extraction of Olsen and Sommers (1982) was used to fractionate inorganic P. Phosphorus was measured in the extracted supernatants by the molybdate–ascorbic acid method.
Results and Discussion: The results showed that clear-cutting of the indigenous forests and their conversion into agricultural fields significantly decreased total P and total organic P levels. Land-use changes from natural forest to farmland decreased the total P by 23% (from 644 to 495 mg per kg). Clearing and subsequent cultivation of the native woodland resulted in a marked depletion of total organic P. In addition, the land-use conversion from the natural forestland to an agroecosystem (cultivated land) led to increases in total inorganic P and inorganic P forms levels (labile P, P non-occluded, occluded in oxides of iron and aluminum, soluble calcium phosphate and sparingly soluble calcium phosphate). Labile inorganic P (NaHCO-Pi) showed the greatest changes, such as labile inorganic P in the amount of change from 1.75 in the forest land to 13.01 mg per kg of cultivated land, which represent an increase of approximately 8-fold compared to control (natural forest). The results also revealed that the refractory inorganic P fractions (HCl-Pi) were the major inorganic P pool, comprising 50-70% of the total inorganic P pool, indicating CaCO3 control over phosphorus availability in the studied soils. This study indicated that forestland degradation and cultivation caused chemical changes of P dynamics.
Conclusion: Large-scale conversion of indigenous forests to cultivated land, driven by long-term agricultural development in the Toshan region, has greatly impacted the forms and content of P in the soils. Generally, the conversion of natural ecosystem to agroecosystems, decreased the proportion of organic P (Po) in the top-soils at depth of 0 to 10 cm. The depletion in organic P from the cropped fields could be attributed to the enhanced mineralization of soil organic P caused by cultivation and removal of P in the crops. However, the conversion of natural forest to farmland led to increases in inorganic P (Pi). About 50% to 70% of the TP was bound to CaCO3, and thus this solid phase is critical to P fate in the soils and ecosystem of the Toshan Region, Golestan province


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