عنوان مقاله [English]
Changing land use may have a major influence on physical, chemical, and biological soil properties with a consequence for soil functioning and productivity. Abandonment of agricultural lands is actually a kind of restoration of these lands to their original natural conditions, which is often done through human intervention. Soil restoration after land abandonment is a complex phenomenon. The pastures of our country are typically cultivated in rainfed methods, and the use of agricultural inputs such as animal manure, poisons, and chemical fertilizers is not very common. Therefore the continuous cultivation of a product and the lack of use of agricultural inputs causes a gradual decrease in fertility and increase erosion. Hence, after years of cultivation, the production potential decreases, and the land is abandoned.
Materials and Methods
This study was conducted to determine the effects of land abandonment on some physical, chemical, and biological soil properties in the 0-20 and 20-40 cm depth at three different sites including Lal Abad, Qaleh Kohneh and Chalab-e Pain, using 2×2 factorial layout arranged in a completely randomized design (CRD) with three replications. The physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of the soil were measured by conventional laboratory methods. Electrical conductivity of saturated paste extract (ECe) with electrical conductivity meter device in saturated paste extract, pH of saturated paste with pH meter device, and bulk density by cylinder method were determined in the samples. The amount of dispersible clay (DC) was determined by the method of Gee and Bauder and the Mean Weight Diameter (MWD) was determined by the method of the wet sieve. The amount of absorbable phosphorus by extraction method and total soil nitrogen by Keldahl method were measured in the samples. The amount of soil organic carbon (OC) in the samples was determined by the method of Walkley and Black. Mineralization of organic carbon (soil respiration) (Cmin) and metabolic quotient (qCO2) were obtained by validated and conventional methods.
Results and Discussion
The results showed that the abandonment of agricultural lands significantly increased the MWD and reduced the amount of dispersible clay. Bulk density also decreased due to the abandonment of agricultural land in all areas except the Qaleh Kohneh area. The results of the analysis of the chemical characteristics of the soil indicated a decrease in soil pH in all areas and depths, except in the Qaleh Kohneh area. The biological results also showed that the abandonment of agricultural lands caused the change in biological characteristics. Abandonment of agricultural lands in all three regions led to an increase in microbial biomass carbon and soil microbial respiration. High microbial respiration in abandoned lands is probably related to more organic carbon in these soils. Loss of soil organic matter due to cultivation and improper soil management is often the main reason for reducing soil respiration in agricultural lands compared to abandoned lands.
Changing land use from agriculture to abandonment improved the physical, chemical, and biological indicators of soil quality, especially the surface layer of the soil, which ultimately led to the improvement of soil quality in all the studied areas. It can be concluded that the release of agricultural lands has increased soil health by increasing the carbon input into the soil, improving the soil aggregates, and improving the microbial activity of the soil.