Effects of Liming and Dicyandiamide(DCD)Application on Soil pH and Nitrification of Acidic Red Soil

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Supported by the Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Nos. XDB15030202 and XDB15030302)

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    [Objective] Soil acidification is one of the most important limitations on agricultural production in the red soil regions of South China, where the production of staple food crops is negatively affected by acid soil because its high contents of aluminum, manganese and acid hinder efficient use of soil nutrients such as nitrogen. Therefore, there is an urgent need for dual improvement of soil pH and N use efficiency in the red soil regions. As a conventional method for ameliorating acidic soils, liming increases soil pH, but inevitably enhances soil nitrification. The enhanced nitrification not only accelerates soil acidification, but also increases the risk of nitrate loss through leaching and runoff in the red soil regions with abundant rainfall. To prevent nitrification, dicyandiamide (DCD) is a commonly used nitrification inhibitor, which will reduce nitrate loss and soil acidification. The use of DCD coupled with lime may be an effective approach to improving red soil productivity. Previous studies only focused on the effect of liming or DCD separately on soil nitrification, and the joint effects of liming and DCD on nitrification of acid red soil are rarely reported. Thus, the objectives of this study are to investigate effects of combined application of lime and DCD on soil pH and nitrification in acid red soil and their underlying mechanisms.[Method] Soils collected from the Yingtan Red Soil Ecological Experimental Station in Jiangxi Province were cultivated for 35 days, and 200 mg ·kg-1 urea was applied as substrate for nitrification. Two factors were involved in the study, i.e. liming rate (0, 2, 4 and, 6 g·kg-1 soil) and DCD application rate (0 and 20 mg·kg-1). The soil in each treatment was sampled every 7 days for analyzing soil pH, ammonium and nitrate contents to evaluate their variations. At the end of the culture, soil DNA was extracted and amoA gene copies of ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA) and ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) were determined.[Result] It was found that liming at <4 g·kg-1increased soil pH and enhanced nitrification, whereas liming at >4 g·kg-1 increased soil pH a bit and did almost nothing on nitrification compared with 4 g·kg-1. A parabolic relationship curve was observed between soil pH and apparent nitrification rate. Apparent nitrification rate peaked on D7, D14, and D21 in soil 6.9 or so in pH. Soil nitrification was mainly affected by AOA and AOB, either independently or jointly. Path analysis shows that abundance of AOA had certain direct, but negative effect on apparent soil nitrification rate, and also some indirect effect reducing the rate by negatively affecting the abundance of AOB. On the contrary, abundance of AOB had certain positive effect on apparent nitrification rate, indicating that the promoted nitrification was attributed mainly to AOB as a result of liming. Application of DCD displayed a significant inhibitory effect on nitrification in red soil, regardless of soil pH. In soils high in pH (pH 7.0~7.8), DCD inhibited nitrification by reducing the abundance of AOB, while in soils lower in pH (pH<6.0), DCD inhibited the growth of both AOA and AOB, thus reducing nitrification. Furthermore, soil pH was increased significantly due to the reduced nitrification when DCD was applied.[Conclusion] Combined application of an appropriate amount of lime (2~4 g·kg-1) and DCD can not only raise pH of the acidic red soils and alleviate acidification, but also reduce nitrification, thus mitigating the potential threat of nitrate loss to the environment. All the findings in this study may serve as theoretical support to and new ideas for amelioration of acid soils. However, as the present experiment was carried out under well-controlled condition, the effects of combined application of lime and DCD on soil pH and nitrification in fields in the red soil regions need to be further studied for validation.

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ZHANG Haoqing, ZHAO Xueqiang, ZHANG Lingyu, SHEN Renfang. Effects of Liming and Dicyandiamide(DCD)Application on Soil pH and Nitrification of Acidic Red Soil[J]. Acta Pedologica Sinica,2021,58(1):169-179.

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  • Received:August 08,2019
  • Revised:September 16,2019
  • Adopted:October 25,2019
  • Online: October 30,2020
  • Published: January 11,2021