The accumulation of soil organic matter under pasture and its effect on soil properties

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Comparisons of paired virgin and pasture samples of Coolup sand showed that nitrogen had accumulated in the top 12.5 cm under pasture at an average of 24 p.p.m. per year. Carbon, sulphur, and organic phosphorus also accumulated to give C: N: S: P ratios of 118: 10: 1.2: 0.47. The accumulation of sulphur accounted for about a quarter of the sulphur added in fertilizer and the accumulation of organic phosphorus accounted for about a tenth of the phosphorus added. Inorganic phosphorus had also accumulated but the amount varied between soils. The cation exchange capacity, as measured by summation of exchangeable cations and exchange acidity, increased by an average of 44 m-equiv. per g increase in nitrogen or 3.7 m-equiv. per g increase in carbon. Most of the increase was due to increases in exchange acidity. However, the buffering capacity of the soil for potassium was only slightly affected by the increase in organic matter. The water held by the soil between 0.1 bar and 15 bar suction increased by an average of 3.3 per cent per 0.1 per cent increase in soil nitrogen. When the soils were incubated the ratio of nitrogen mineralized to sulphur mineralized was large, especially when the incubation period was short. In the field there was a strong annual cycle of nitrogen and sulphur availability. Values were high in autumn, low in winter, and rose again at the end of spring.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)437-444
Number of pages8
JournalAustralian Journal of Experimental Agriculture
Issue number39
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1969


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