Unreasonable use of chemical fertilizer (CF) on agricultural soil leads to massive losses of soil organic carbon (SOC) and total nitrogen (TN) in tropical and subtropical areas, where soil conditions are unfavorable for aggregate formation. This study evaluated the effects of combined application of biogas slurry (BS) plus CF on soil aggregation and aggregate - associated C/N concentration and storage in an Ultisol. Six treatments included: no fertilizer (T1), CF only (T2), partial (15% (T3), 30% (T4) and 45% (T5)) substitution of TN with BS and BS only (T6). Soil mechanical - stable aggregates (MSAs) formation and stability as well as MSAs - associated C/N concentration and storage were observed in different aggregate sizes (>5, 5-2, 2-1, 1.0-0.5, 0.50-0.25 and <0.25 mm). The proportion of MSAs >5 mm significantly increased with BS substitution (T5), while the proportions of MSAs 1.0-0.5 mm, MSAs 0.50-0.25 mm and MSAs <0.25 mm significantly decreased. Both mean weight diameter and geometric mean diameter were highest in T5, which improved soil aggregation stability as well as resulted in significantly higher SOC and TN concentrations and storage in MSAs >0.5 mm that constituted 72-82% of MSAs. Stepwise regression analysis showed that MSAs >5 mm, SOC in MSAs >5 mm and TN in MSAs >5 mm were the dominant variables affecting aggregate stability. Meanwhile SOC in MSAs <0.25 mm and TN in MSAs 2-1 mm were independent variables affecting SOC and TN concentrations in bulk soils. Therefore, certain rate of combined application of BS plus CF is an effective, eco - friendly way to improve soil quality in an Ultisol.
Zheng, X., Fan, J., Xu, L., & Zhou, J. (2017). Effects of combined application of biogas slurry and chemical fertilizer on soil aggregation and C/N distribution in an ultisol. PLoS ONE, 12(1). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0170491