Soil organic matter decomposition: effects of organic matter addition on phosphorus dynamics in lateritic soils

Fadly Yusran

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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    Abstract

    [Truncated abstract] Relationships between the persistence of organic matter added to soil, the dynamics of soil organic carbon (C) and phosphorus (P) were examined in four experiments on lateritic soils of Western Australia. The main objective was to quantify the release of P following organic matter application in soils which have high P adsorbing capacity. Another objective was to confirm that due to its recalcitrant materials, the effect of peat lasted longer in soil than other sources of organic matter in terms of increasing plant-available P fractions. Three experiments were conducted under glasshouse conditions for various lengths of time, with nine- to twelve-month incubations to investigate these hypotheses. As expected, organic matter with lower C:N ratios than peat (lucerne hay) decomposed more rapidly compared with peat, and the most active mineralisation took place within the first three months of incubation. Soil organic-C (extracted by 0.5 M K2SO4) had a significant positive correlation with P extracted with 0.5 M NaHCO pH 8.53. For a higher application rate (120 ton ha-1), peat was better than wheat straw and lucerne hay in increasing extractable bicarbonate-P concentrations in soil, especially at incubation times up to 12 months. Throughout the experiment, peat was associated with a steady increase in all parameters measured. In contrast to peat, nutrient release from lucerne hay and wheat straw was rapid and diminished over time. There was a tendency for organic-C (either in the form of total extractable organic-C or microbial biomass-C) to steadily increase in soil with added peat throughout the experiment. Unlike wheat straw and lucerne hay, extractable organic-C from peat remained in soil and there was less C loss in the form of respiration. Therefore, peat persisted and sequestered C to the soil system for a longer time than the other source of organic matter. Freshly added organic matter was expected to have a greater influence on P transformation from adsorbed forms in lateritic soils than existing soil organic matter. By removing the existing soil organic matter, the effect of freshly applied organic matter can be determine separately from that of the existing soil organic matter for a similar organic-C content. In order to do this, some soil samples were combusted up to 450° C to eliminate inherent soil organic matter. The release of P was greater when organic-C from fresh organic matter was applied to combusted soils than in uncombusted soils that contained the existing soil organic matter. The exception only applied for parameters related to soil micro-organisms such as biomass-C and phosphatase. For such parameters, new soil organic matter did not create conditions favourable for organisms to increase in activity despite the abundance of organic matter available. More non-extractable-P was formed in combusted soils compared to bicarbonate-P and it contributed to more than 50% of total-P. As for the first experiment, peat also showed a constant effect in increasing bicarbonate extractable-P in the soil
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Publication statusUnpublished - 2005

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