Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 9

Soil & Tillage Research 102 (2009) 109117

Contents lists available at ScienceDirect

Soil & Tillage Research


journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/still

Soil restoration using composted plant residues: Effects on soil properties


M. Tejada a,*, M.T. Hernandez b, C. Garcia b
Departamento de Cristalografa, Mineraloga y Qumica Agrcola, E.U.I.T.A. Universidad de Sevilla, Crta de Utrera km. 1, 41013 Sevilla, Spain nicos, Centro de Edafologa y Biologa Aplicada del Segura, CEBAS-CSIC, P.O. Box 4195, n de Suelos y Agua y Manejo de Residuos Orga Departamento de Conservacio 30080 Murcia, Spain
b a

A R T I C L E I N F O

A B S T R A C T

Article history: Received 10 December 2007 Received in revised form 12 June 2008 Accepted 10 August 2008 Keywords: Composted plant residues Soil enzymatic activities Soil restoration

Organic soil amendments are increasingly being examined for their potential for soil restoration. In this paper, different composted plant residues consisting of leguminous (red clover, Trifolium pratense L.) (TP) and non-leguminous (rapeseed, Brassica napus L.) (BN) plants and the combination of both plant residues (red clover + rapeseed, Trifolium pratense L. + Brassica napus L. at a ratio 1:1) (TP + BN) were applied during a period of 4 years for restoring a Xelloric Calciorthid soil located near Seville (Guadalquivir Valley, Andalusia, Spain). The effect of the organic soil amendments on plant cover, soil physical (structural stability, bulk density), chemical (C/N ratio), and biological properties (microbial biomass, soil respiration and enzymatic activities (dehydrogenase, urease, b-glucosidase, phosphatase and arylsulfatase activities)) were determined. Organic amendments were applied at rate of 7.2 and 14.4 t organic matter ha1. All composted plant residues had a positive effect on soil physical properties. At the end of the experimental period and at the high rate, soil structural stability was highest in the BN (28.3%) treatment, followed by the TP + BN (22.4%) and the TP (14.5%) treatments and then the control. Soil bulk density was higher in the BN (30.9%), followed by TP + BN (26.2%) and TP (16.1%) treatments with respect to the control. However, soil biological properties (biomass C and the enzymatic activities) were particularly improved by the TP + BN treatment, followed by TP, BN and the control. After 4 years, the percentage of plant cover increased 87.2% in the TP + BN amended soil with respect to the control, followed by TP (84.1%) and BN (83.8%). These differences were attributed to the different chemical composition of the composts applied to the soils and their mineralization, controlled by the soil C/N ratio. The application of TP + BN compost with a C/N ratio of 18, resulted a more favourable soil biological properties and plant cover than the application of TP (C/N ratio = 8.8) and BN (C/N ratio = 47.7) composts. 2008 Published by Elsevier B.V.

1. Introduction Soil degradation is a major environmental concern. For this reason, the application of materials with a high organic matter content, such as fresh and composted urban wastes (Ros et al., 2003), shredded and composted plant materials derived from municipal landscape (Walker, 2003), cotton gin compost and poultry manure (Tejada et al., 2006a), and beet vinasse composted with a crushed cotton gin compost (Tejada et al., 2007) to semiarid soils has become a common environmental practice for soil restoration, maintaining soil organic matter, reclaiming degraded soils, and supplying plant nutrients. The application of plant residues to soil is considered a good management practice because it stimulates soil microbial growth

* Corresponding author. E-mail address: mtmoral@us.es (M. Tejada). 0167-1987/$ see front matter 2008 Published by Elsevier B.V. doi:10.1016/j.still.2008.08.004

and activity, with the subsequent mineralization of plant nutrients (Eriksen, 2005; Randhawa et al., 2005), and increases soil fertility and quality (Doran et al., 1988). For this reason, their use in the restoration of degraded zones is promising. However, the inuence of organic matter on soil properties depends on the amount, type and size of the added organic materials. The effect of a particular plant residue on soil properties depends on its dominant ment et al., 1998; Chaves et al., 2004). component (Cle Since many enzymes respond to changes in soil fertility status, they can be used as potential indicators of soil quality (Garcia et al., 2000). Enzymes may also react to changes in soil management more quickly than other physical or chemical variables and therefore be useful as early indicators of biological changes (Bandick and Dick, 1999). In view of the above, the objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of plant residues on soil restoration, comparing their effect on some physical (structural stability and soil bulk density), chemical (C/N ratio) and biological soil properties such as soil

110

M. Tejada et al. / Soil & Tillage Research 102 (2009) 109117 Table 2 Characteristics of the plant residue composts (mean of 7 samples with standard error in parentheses) TP BN (0.6) (1.7) (1.7) (1.1) (0.1) (1.2) (0.6) (0.5) (0.6) 30.4 405.8 8.5 47.7 63.6 2.5 27.8 20.4 34.6 (1.4) (3.6) (0.9) (4) (1.4) (0.2) (1.1) (1.6) (1.4) TP + BN 21.7 680.4 37.4 18.2 59.5 53.8 29.8 18.3 30.5 (1.0) (2.1) (0.8) (2.6) (2.8) (2.1) (0.9) (0.5) (1.0)

microbial biomass, soil respiration and soil enzymatic activities (dehydrogenase, urease, b-glucosidase, phosphate and arylsulfatase) in a semiarid Mediterranean agro-ecosystem. 2. Materials and methods 2.1. Study area The study was conducted from October 2000 to October 2005 near Sevilla (Guadalquivir Valley, Andalusia, Spain) on a Xerollic Calciorthid (Soil Survey Staff, 1987). The main soil characteristics (025 cm) are shown in Table 1. Soil pH was determined in distilled water with a glass electrode (soil:H2O ratio 1:2.5). Soil electrical conductivity was determined in distilled water with a glass electrode (soil:H2O ratio 1:5). Soil texture was determined by the Robinsons pipette method (SSEW, 1982) and dominant clay types were determined by X-ray diffraction. Soil total N was determined by the Kjeldahl method (MAPA, 1986). Total CaCO3 was measured by estimating the quantity of the CO2 produced by HCl addition to the soil (MAPA, 1986). Soil organic carbon was determined by oxidizing organic matter in soil samples with K2Cr2O7 in sulphuric acid (96%) for 30 min, and measuring the concentration of Cr3+ formed (Yeomans and Bremner, 1988). The climate is semiarid with an average annual precipitation of 400 mm for the 3 experimental years, concentrated in the spring and autumn months. The mean annual temperature of the 3 experimental years was 17.3 8C and mean potential evapotranspiration was 700 mm year1. Thus the long-term water decit, calculated by the Thorntwaite method, is 436 mm. July and August are the driest months. The area is a fragile environment strongly marked by erosion. Harsh physical conditions and inadequate soil uses by man have resulted in a dissected landscape where furrows, rills and gullies scour both the hill slopes and the weak deposits which ll the lowlying regions. 2.2. Properties of plant residues Plant residues consisting of leguminous (red clover, Trifolium pratense L.) and non-leguminous (rapeseed, Brassica napus L.) plants and the combination of both residues (red clover + rapeseed, Trifolium pratense L. + Brassica napus L. at a ratio 1:1) were composted. For composting, the residues (Trifolium pratense L., Brassica napus L. and Trifolium pratense L. + Brassica napus L.) were shredded and composted in trapezoidal piles (2 m high by 2 m width by 3 m length). During the thermophilic phase, the piles were watered regularly to maintain moisture contents at around 55%, in accordance with McKinley et al. (1985). The piles were turned every 10 days in order to improve the O2 level inside the pile. The composting process lasted 179 days for Trifolium pratense L. residues, 210 days for Brassica napus L. residues and 201 days for the mix of Trifolium pratense L. + Brassica napus L. residues.
Table 1 Initial soil characteristics (mean of 4 samples with standard error in parentheses) pH Electrical conductivity (dS m1) Clay (g kg1) Silt (g kg1) Sand (g kg1) Texture Dominant clay types CaCO3 (g kg1) Total N (g kg1) Total C (g kg1) C/N ratio 7.6 (0.14) 0.23 (0.04) 313 (15) 259 (22) 428 (31) Clay loam Illite, illite-montmorillonite (interstratied) 351 (25) 0.91 (0.03) 5.4 (0.09) 5.9 (0.3)

Dry weight (%) Organic matter (g kg1 DM) Total N (g kg1 DM) C/N ratio Humic acid-C (g kg1) Fulvic acid-C (g kg1) Lignin (g kg1 DM) Cellulose (g kg1 DM) Hemicellulose (g kg1 DM) DM: dry matter.

16.8 358.9 40.8 8.8 1.3 51.4 5.3 4.7 9.8

Composting was considered complete when the C/N ratio and temperature became constant. The general properties of the composted plant residues at the end of the composting process are shown in Table 2. Organic matter (OM) was determined by dry combustion (MAPA, 1986). To determine humic and fulvic acids-C, composted plant residues were extracted with a mixture of 0.1 M sodium pyrophosphate and 0.1 M sodium hydroxide at pH 13 (Kononova, 1966). The supernatant was acidied to pH 2 with HCl and allowed to stand for 24 h at room temperature. To separate humic acids from fulvic acids, the solution was centrifuged and the precipitate containing humic acids was removed. This precipitate was later redissolved with sodium hydroxide (Yeomans and Bremner, 1988). After the removal of humic acids, the acidic ltrate containing the dissolved fulvic acid fraction was passed through a column of XAD8 resin. The adsorbed fulvic was then recovered by elution with 0.1 M NaOH, desalted using Amberlyst 15-cation-exchange resin, and nally freeze-dried. The carbon content of humic acid and fulvic acids was determined by the method of Yeomans and Bremner (1988). Structural carbohydrates were determined sequentially as neutral detergent and acid detergent bres and lignin was determined by permanganate oxidation (Goering and van Soest, 1970). The neutral detergent procedure gives the total bre content of cell walls. The acid detergent bre is mainly composed of lignin, cellulose and insoluble minerals (Goering and van Soest, 1970). The hemicellulose fraction was calculated by subtracting the acid detergent bre from the neutral detergent values. The acid detergent bre and neutral detergent values were corrected for residual ash. 2.3. Experimental layout and treatments The experimental layout was a randomized complete block with a total amount of 35 plots, with each plot measuring 9 m 9 m. Seven treatments were used (ve replicates per treatment): (1) C, control soil (no organic amendment). (2) TP1, fertilized with 10 t ha1 of red clover (Trifolium pratense L.) compost (TP) (dry weight) (7.2 t OM ha1). (3) BN1, fertilized with 8.8 t ha1 of rapeseed (Brassica napus L.) compost (BN) (dry weight) (7.2 t OM ha1). (4) (TP + BN)1, fertilized with 5.3 t ha1 of a compost from a red clover + rapeseed (Trifolium pratense L. + Brassica napus L.) (1:1) mixture (TP + BN) (dry weight) (7.2 t OM ha1). (5) TP2, fertilized with 20 t ha1 of TP (dry weight) (14.4 t OM ha1). (6) BN2, fertilized with 17.7 t ha1 of BN (dry weight) (14.4 t OM ha1). (7) (TP + BN)2, fertilized with 10.5 t ha1 of the mixing TP + BN (dry weight) (14.4 t OM ha1).

M. Tejada et al. / Soil & Tillage Research 102 (2009) 109117

111

The composted plant residues were spread on the soil surface on 10 October 2001, 2 October 2002, 7 October 2003 and 6 October 2004, and incorporated to a 25-cm depth by chisel plowing and disking the day after application. Control plots received the same tillage treatments as the plots subjected to residue addition. The chemical composition of the used composts was the same for the entire experimental time. To accomplish this, the composted plant residues were stored at 0 8C after their application the rst year to avoid mineralization. 2.4. Soil sampling and analytical determinations Plant cover, or percentage of soil covered by the octagonal projection of the aerial part of each plant, was determined by the lineal intercept method (Caneld, 1941). Plant cover was determined on 15 May 2002, 19 May 2003, 17 May 2004 and 20 May 2005. Soil samples (025 cm) were collected from each plot with a gauge auger (30-mm diameter) on 1 October 2002, 6 October 2003, 5 October 2004, and 8 October 2005. Three subsamples were collected from each plot. After air drying, the soil samples were grounded to pass a 2-mm sieve and stored for 10 days in sealed polyethylene bags at 4 8C before analysis. nin and Soil structural stability was determined by the He Monnier method (1956) and classied according to Baize criteria (1988). The aggregate size fraction <2 mm was used. The proportions (%, w/w) of stable Ag1, Ag2 and Ag3 aggregates (corresponding to untreated, alcohol-treated and benzene-treated aggregates, respectively) were calculated, and the instability index, Is, was obtained using the equation: Is % < 20 mmmax Ag1 Ag2 Ag3 =3 0:9%CS

2.5. Statistical analysis Analysis of variance (ANOVA) was performed using the Statgraphics v. 5.0 software package (Statistical Graphics Corporation, 1991). ANOVA was based on the HSD (honestly signicant difference) criterion, considering a signicance level of p < 0.05 throughout the study. For the ANOVA analysis, the ve replicate data were used for each fertilizer treatment and every experimental season, although in the tables the values that appear are the average of the ve replicates. In order to nding homogeneous and independent groups of variables starting from all the analyzed variables, data were subjected to factor analysis using varimax rotated factor matrix to obtain a matrix, the rotation of which using the varimax criterion revealed the elements most markedly inuencing soil remediation. For this factor analysis, rst the correlation matrix between all the variables was calculated. Next, a optimal number of factors necessary to represent the data was extracted and lastly, the factors were rotated with object of facilitating its interpretation. Lastly, linear regression analysis was performed with the most signicant parameters in factor analysis. 3. Results and discussion 3.1. Soil physical and chemical properties At the end of the experimental period, structural stability increased in the organically amended soils (Fig. 1). The unamended soil showed the lowest structural stability. These results are in accordance with Puget et al. (2000), Spaccini et al. (2004), and Tejada et al. (2006a) who found that organic matter acts as a cementing factor, necessary for occulating soil particles to form stable aggregates. However, this increase depended on the chemical composition of the organic matter applied to the soil, higher increases being observed at both rates in the soils amended with the composts providing greater amounts of humic acids to the soil (BN and TP + BN composts). In this respect, Piccolo et al. (1997) and Whalen et al. (2003) suggested that the aggregate stability is signicantly correlated with the humic but not with the fulvic acid concentration, because the humic acids are directly involved in the clayorganic complex formation. On the other hand, the contribution of microbial activity to aggregate formation and stabilization has been reviewed by Oades (1993), Degens (1997) and Six et al. (2004). The production of mucilages by bacteria and fungi enhances the formation of soil microaggregates (Oades, 1993; Six et al., 2004). In our experiment, the addition of composted plant residues also generated an increase in soil microbial activity. Therefore, this increase in soil microbial activity could be responsible for the increase in the soil structural stability. However, the mucilages produced by bacteria and fungi represent a source of labile soil organic carbon (Oades, 1993). Martens (2000) indicated that the aggregate binding effect of labile soil organic carbon is rapid but transient while slower decomposing soil organic carbon has subtler effects on aggregation, but the effects may be longer lived. For this reason, the aggregate stability increased more strongly in the soils amended with composted plant residues with higher humic acid concentration. Soil bulk density decreased during the experimental period (Fig. 1) as a result of dilution of the denser soil mineral fraction and soil aeration increases because of the increase in soil porosity accompanying structural stability. This decrease was especially evident at the higher rate of compost addition at the end of the experimental period. Also, this decrease was more signicant in

where (%<20 mm)max indicates the largest proportion of suspended particles <20 mm determined for the three samples treatments, and %CS is the largest proportion of coarse sand (the 0.22 mm fraction) forming part of the stable aggregates. Soil bulk density was determined using the core method. The soil was weighed and dried at 105 8C for 48 h before determining bulk density as the ratio between soil dry weight and the ring volume, according to the ofcial methods of the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture (MAPA, 1986). Soil C/N ratio evolution was determined for all treatments and for each experimental season with the intention of observing the organic matter mineralization of plant residues added to the soil. Soil microbial biomass was determined using the CHCl3 fumigationextraction method (Vance et al., 1987). The activity of six soil enzymes was measured: dehydrogenase activity was measured by reduction of 2-p-iodo-3-nitrophenyl 5-phenyl tetrazolium chloride to iodonitrophenyl formazan (Garcia et al., 1993). Urease activity was determined using urea as substrate (Kandeler and Gerber, 1988). b-Glucosidase activity was determined using p-nitrophenyl-b-D-glucopyranoside as substrate (Masciandaro et al., 1994). Alkaline phosphatase activity was measured using p-nitrophenyl phosphate as substrate (Tabatabai and Bremner, 1969). Arylsulfatase activity was determined using p-nitrophenylsulphate as substrate (Tabatabai and Bremner, 1970). In the laboratory, and in the samples collected at the end of the experiment (8 October 2005), soil respiration was measured by incubation for 3, 7, 15, 30, 60 and 90 days. Total CO2C collected in the NaOH asks was determined by the addition of an excess of 1.5 M BaCl2 followed by titration with standardized HCl using a phenolphthalein indicator (Zibilske, 1994).

112

M. Tejada et al. / Soil & Tillage Research 102 (2009) 109117

Fig. 1. Instability index (log10 Is), bulk density (Mg m3) and C/N ratio in soils to which composted plant residues were applied. Error bars represent the standard error of means. Structural stability (log10 Is) (Baize, 1988), very stable  1.0; stable = 1.01.3; slightly stable = 1.31.7; unstable = 1.72.0; very unstable  2.0. Different letters following the gures indicate a signicant difference at p < 0.05.

the soils amended with composted plant residues with higher humic acid concentration. These results are in agreement with Kay and VandenBygaart (2002) and Tejada et al. (2006a). At the end of the experimental period, the lowest soil C/N ratio values were observed for control soil, followed by TP, (TP + BN) and BN amended soils (Fig. 1). Optimum C/N ratio (10 12) was observed for TP + BN (at both rates) and TP2 amended soils. TP1 amended soils had slightly lower C/N values, whereas BN amended soils (at both rates) showed higher C/N ratios. In our opinion, this is why mineralization prevails over immobilization in the TP + BN and TP treatments. Soil microbial biomass and soil enzymatic activities were also higher in these soils than in BN (at both rates) treatments (C/N ratio not optimal). Thus immobilization prevails over mineralization and soil microbial biomass and soil enzymatic activities are lower. These results reect those of Tejada and Gonzalez (2006), who observed a high degree of mineralization of a crushed cotton gin compost after its application to soil, the soil C/N ratio presenting values around 1012.

3.2. Soil biological properties Soil respiration and soil microbial biomass-C increased progressively during the experimental period with compost addition (Fig. 2). The general increase in biomass-C and soil respiration can be attributed to the incorporation of easily degradable materials, which stimulate the zymogeneous microbial activity of the soil, and to the incorporation of exogenous microorganisms (Blagodatsky et al., 2000; Schaffers, 2000). These results are in agreement with Tejada et al. (2006a,b), who found an increase in soil microbial biomass carbon and soil respiration after the application to the soil of diverse organic wastes such as cotton gin compost, beet vinasse composted with a crushed cotton gin compost and poultry manure. Also, soil microbial biomass-C of the fourth experimental season was higher than those of the third, second and rst experimental seasons, respectively, due to the residual effect of the organic matter of each compost after their application in the third, second and rst experimental seasons.

M. Tejada et al. / Soil & Tillage Research 102 (2009) 109117

113

Fig. 2. Cumulative CO2C and microbial biomass-C in soils to which composted plant residues were applied. Error bars represent the standard error of means. NS, *, **, ***, nonsignicant or signicant at p < 0.05, 0.01 or 0.001, respectively. Different letters following the gures indicate a signicant difference at p < 0.05.

It has been suggested that the improvement in the physical properties of soil, particularly structural stability and porosity, may affect its biological and biochemical activities (Giusquiani et al., 1995; Tejada et al., 2006a). Our results showed that the treated soils, in which an increase in soil microbial biomass was observed, showed a low soil instability index (log10 Is), due perhaps to the large amounts of organic matter added. Several studies have indicated that soil microbial processes are directly and indirectly inuenced by soil structure. The presence of small pores reduces accessibility of organic materials to decomposers, leading to physical protection of C and a reduction in N mineralization (Van Veen and Kuikman, 1990; Tejada et al., 2006a). However, soil respiration and soil microbial biomass-C depends on the quality of organic inputs as well as on the quantity. The fact that soil microbial biomass and soil respiration were higher in the soils amended with composted plant residues with a higher fulvic acid concentration may be due to a greater labile fraction of organic matter in these residues. The labile fraction of organic matter is the most degradable and therefore the most susceptible to mineralization (Cook and Allan, 1992), acting as an immediate energy source for microorganisms. Curves representing cumulative CO2C with time (Fig. 2) show that the slope at the outset was higher in the soils amended with composted plant residues with a higher fulvic acid concentration (TP and TP + BN composts), which suggests that in these treatments carbon substrates are mineralised more rapidly; and that the greater microbial biomass derived from these treatments is able to degrade a greater quantity of substrates.

The increase in soil microbial biomass and soil respiration affects positively soil enzymatic activity. In this respect and at the end of the experimental period, soil enzymatic activities generally increased in the treated soils in the following order: (TP + BN)2 > TP2 > (TP + BN)1 > TP1 > BN2 > BN1 (Figs. 3 and 4). Several authors have reported that the addition of organic amendments activates microorganisms to produce enzymes related to the cycle of the most important nutrients. In this respect, Tejada et al. (2006a,b) found an increase of urease, bglucosidase, alkaline phosphatase and arylsulfatase activities after the application to the soil of diverse organic wastes such as cotton gin compost, beet vinasse composted with a crushed cotton gin compost and poultry manure. Dehydrogenase activity typically occurs in all intact, viable microbial cells. Thus, its measurement is usually related to the presence of viable microorganisms and their oxidative capability (Trevors, 1984). According to Garcia et al. (1994) dehydrogenase activity can be used as an indicator of microbial activity in semiarid soils. All treated soils showed higher dehydrogenase activity than the control (Fig. 3). The greater dehydrogenase activity detected at the high doses suggests that the added organic matter did not include compounds toxic for this activity (Pascual et al., 1998). The high dehydrogenase activity exhibited by the treated soils suggests the existence of a high quantity of biodegradable substrates in these soils, which is in agreement with their high content of labile C, which will stimulate microbial activity. Measurement of soil hydrolases provides an early indication of changes in soil fertility since they are related to the mineralization

114

M. Tejada et al. / Soil & Tillage Research 102 (2009) 109117

Fig. 3. Dehydrogenase, urease and b-glucosidase activities in soils to which composted plant residues were applied. Error bars represent the standard error of means. INTF: 2p-iodo-3-nitrophenyl formazan; PNP: p-nitrophenol. Different letters following the gures indicate a signicant difference at p < 0.05.

of such important nutrient elements as C, N, P and S (Ceccanti et al., 1994). Urease catalyses the hydrolysis of urea to carbon dioxide and ammonium, and it is widely distributed in microorganisms, plants and animals (Nannipieri et al., 2002). The observed stimulation of urease activity was higher in the soils amended with composted plant residues with higher fulvic acid concentration (TP + BN and TP) (Fig. 3), probably due to the higher microbial biomass produced in response. b-Glucosidase activity reects the state of the organic matter and the processes occurring therein (Garcia et al., 1994). The higher b-glucosidase activity in organically amended soils (Fig. 3) can be explained by the positive effect of the organic amendment on the activity of this enzyme, probably due to the higher microbial biomass produced in response (Tejada et al., 2006a). Soil phosphatase and arylsulfatase activities were also higher in the soils amended with composted plant residues with higher fulvic acid concentration (Fig. 4). The high activity detected in amended soils suggests either the existence in organic wastes of phosphorus and sulphate compounds that can act as substrate for the enzyme, or the existence of microbial populations which need

inorganic phosphorus for their own development, stimulating the enzyme synthesis. The stimulation of these hydrolase activities in the treated soils suggests either that the amendments used did not contain compounds toxic for these activities or they increased soil microbial growth, or additional microbial cells and/or enzymes counteracts any inhibitory effect of the toxic compounds. Soil enzymatic activities at the end of the experimental period were highest than those of the third, second and rst experimental seasons, respectively, due to the residual effect of the organic matter added to the soil. 3.3. Plant cover One year after the application of the composted plant residues to soil, the spontaneous vegetation growth increased in the treated soils with respect to the control. The most abundant species were Borago ofcinalis, Chrysanthemum coronarium, Diplotaxis muralis, Moricandia arvensis, Paronychia argentea and Silene colorata. Fig. 5 shows the evolution of percentage of plant

M. Tejada et al. / Soil & Tillage Research 102 (2009) 109117

115

Fig. 4. Phosphatase and arylsulfatase activities in soils to which composted plant residues were applied. Error bars represent the standard error of means. PNP: p-nitrophenol; PNF: p-nitrophenyl. Different letters following the gures indicate a signicant difference at p < 0.05.

cover after the application of composted plant residues during the experimental period. After 4 years, the percentage of plant cover increased with respect to the control soil in the following order: plot treated with (TP + BN)2 (87.2% plant cover) > plot treated with TP2 (86.8% plant cover) > plot treated with (TP + BN)1 (86.7% plant cover) > plot treated with TP1 (85.9% plant cover) > plot treated with BN2 (85.2% plant cover) > plot treated with BN1 (83.8% plant cover).

Like soil microbial biomass-C and soil enzymatic activities, the plant cover of the fourth experimental season was higher than those of the third, second and rst experimental seasons, respectively, due to the residual effect of the organic matter of each compost applied to the soil. Since soil enzymatic activities are responsible for important cycles such as C, N, P and S, plant cover increased signicantly when a higher dose of composted plant residues was applied to the

Fig. 5. Plant cover (%) in soils to which composted plant residues were applied. Error bars represent the standard error of means. Different letters following the gures indicate a signicant difference at p < 0.05.

116

M. Tejada et al. / Soil & Tillage Research 102 (2009) 109117

Table 3 Factor analysis for all parameters analyzed and for all treatments studied Variable Eigenvalue % Variance % Cumulative variancea Factor matrix Varimax rotated factor matrix Factor 2 0.714 0.761 0.542 0.240 0.174 0.189 0.156 0.155 0.140 0.083 Factor 1 0.249 0.177 0.188 0.928 0.960 0.956 0.955 0.957 0.933 0.926 Factor 2 0.920 0.909 0.676 0.146 0.231 0.215 0.250 0.252 0.258 0.318

Factor 1 Instability index Bulk density C/N ratio Biomass-C Dehydrogenase Urease b-Glucosidase Phosphatase Arylsulfatase Plant cover
a

7.297 1.621 0.661 0.145 0.094 0.068 0.040 0.032 0.024 0.017

72.973 16.208 6.613 1.450 0.945 0.680 0.404 0.318 0.238 0.173

72.973 89.181 95.793 97.243 98.188 98.867 99.271 99.589 99.827 100

0.599 0.528 0.445 0.908 0.969 0.962 0.974 0.977 0.958 0.976

Is calculated by adding the % variance of each parameter and the % variances of the parameters above.

soil. It must be emphasized that the highest density of plant cover was found in those soils showing the highest values of the biochemical parameters studied. A suitable soil C/N ratio after the application of composted plant residues, as is the case of TP + BN and TP treated soils, favours the mineralization of organic matter and therefore, favours a higher plant cover. Plant cover density at the fourth year was higher than that at the third, second and rst year, respectively, due to the residual effect of the organic matter added with the composts after their application in the rst, second and third experimental seasons. These results are very important, principally in the arid zones where the risk of desertication and loss of soil is a great problem (Garcia et al., 1994). In order to predict the parameters most decisively inuencing soil restoration, the variables were subjected to factor analyses (Table 3). The factors selected (i.e., instability index and bulk density) were those having a greater-than-unity eigenvalue according to Kaiser (1960). In this respect, the cumulation of these two factors were found to account for 89.181% of the overall variance. Upon rotate factor varimax, the factor 1 was found to encompass the variables biomass-C, dehydrogenase, urease b-glucosidase, phosphatase and arylsulfatase activities and plant cover. The factor 2 encompasses the variables instability index (log10 Is) and bulk density (both with negative sign), and C/N ratio. As regards the results of the varimax rotated factor matrix, the studied properties were grouped into two factors; one of them containing all the biological properties (factor 1), which respond rapidly and sensitively, and the other containing all the physical and chemical properties (factor 2), which need a long time to affect the soil properties. According to Garcia et al. (2000) biological and biochemical properties indicators of a soils microbial activity will be the most sensitive to the changes which occur in a soil. Since the factor analysis indicated that plant cover is related to the soil biological properties studied, a linear regression analysis was performed, considering the plant cover as the dependent variable. The result was: Plant cover 11:57 0:022 biomass-C 0:29 dehydrogenase 0:13 urease 0:341 b-glucosidase 0:85 phosphatase 0:349 arylsulfatase 95:78 The high correlation coefcient found indicates a strong correlation between the plant cover and soil biological properties. 4. Conclusions The application of composted plant residues had a positive effect on soil physical, chemical and biological properties, and also favours the appearance of spontaneous vegetation, which will R2 %

protect the soil against erosion and will contribute to its restoration. Therefore the addition of this type of organic waste may be considered a good strategy for recovering semiarid areas. However, the extent of these improvements depend on the chemical composition of the composts applied to the soil, humic acid content favouring soil structural stability and porosity, and fulvic acid content favouring soil microbial size and activity. It can also be concluded that the C/N ratio of the composted organic materials, exercises an important effect on the soil C/N strongly inuencing soil biological properties and organic matter mineralization, and consequently soil restoration. The application of TP + BN composts, with a C/N ratio around of 18, originated a more favourable soil C/N evolution and therefore more favourable soil biological properties, which had a more positive effect on plant cover than the application of TP (C/N = 8.8) and BN (C/N = 47.7) composts. Since plant cover is directly related to the soil biological properties evolution, the study of soil enzymatic activities might be a good indicator of the plant cover evolution. References
dologie. INRA, Par s. Baize, D., 1988. Guide des Analyses Courantes en Pe Bandick, A.K., Dick, R.P., 1999. Field management effects on soil enzyme activities. Soil Biol. Biochem. 31, 14711479. Blagodatsky, S., Heinemeyer, O., Richter, J., 2000. Estimating the active and total soil microbial biomass by kinetic respiration analysis. Biol. Fertil. Soils 32, 7381. Caneld, R.H., 1941. Application of the line intercept methods in sampling range vegetation. J. Forest. 39, 384388. Ceccanti, B., Pezzarosa, B., Gallardo-Lancho, F.J., Masciandaro, G., 1994. Bio-tests as markers of soil utilization and fertility. Geomicrobiol. J. 11, 309316. Cook, B.D., Allan, D.L., 1992. Dissolved organic matter in old eld soils: total amounts as a measure of available resources for soil mineralization. Soil Biol. Biochem. 24, 585594. ment, A., Ladha, J.K., Chalifour, F.P., 1998. Nitrogen dynamics of various green Cle manure species and the relationship to low land rice production. Agron. J. 90, 149154. Chaves, B., De Neve, S., Hofman, G., Boeckx, P., Van Cleemput, O., 2004. Nitrogen mineralization of vegetable root residues and green manures as related to their (bio)chemical composition. Eur. J. Agron. 21, 161170. Degens, B.P., 1997. Macro-aggregation of soils by biological bonding and binding mechanisms and the factors affecting these: a review. Aust. J. Soil Res. 35, 431 459. Doran, J.W., Fraser, D.G., Culik, M.N., Liebhardt, W.C., 1988. Inuence of alternative and conventional agricultural management on soil microbial process and nitrogen availability. Am. J. Altern. Agric. 2, 99106. Eriksen, J., 2005. Gross sulphur mineralisationimmobilisation turnover in soil amended with plant residues. Soil Biol. Biochem. 37, 22162224. Garcia, C., Hernandez, T., Costa, F., Ceccanti, B., Masciandaro, G., 1993. The dehydrogenase activity of soils and ecological marker in processes of perturbed system regeneration. In: Proceedings of the XI International Symposium Environmental Biogeochemistry, Salamanca, Spain, pp. 89100. Garcia, C., Hernandez, T., Costa, F., Ceccanti, B., 1994. Biochemical parameters in soils regenerated by the addition of organic wastes. Waste Manage. Res. 12, 457466. Garcia, C., Hernandez, T., Pascual, J.A., Moreno, J.L., Ros, M., 2000. Microbial activity in soils of SE Spain exposed to degradation and desertication processes. Strategies for their rehabilitation. In: Garcia, C., Hernandez, M.T. (Eds.), Re-

M. Tejada et al. / Soil & Tillage Research 102 (2009) 109117 search and Perspectives of Soil Enzymology in Spain. CEBAS-CSIC, Spain, pp. 93143. Giusquiani, P.L., Pagliai, M., Gigliotti, G., Businelli, D., Benetti, A., 1995. Urban waste compost: effects on physical, chemical and biochemical soil properties. J. Environ. Qual. 24, 175182. Goering, H.K., van Soest, P.J., 1970. Forage ber analyses (apparatus, reagents, procedures and some applications). Agric. Handb., vol. 379. USDA-ARS, Washington, DC. nin, S., Monnier, G. 1956. Evaluation de la stabilite de la structure du sol. In: VI He s, pp. 4952. Congr. Sci. Du Sol. Par Kaiser, H.F., 1960. The application of electronic computers to factor analysis. Educ. Phychol. Meas. 20, 141151. Kandeler, E., Gerber, H., 1988. Short-term assay of soil urease activity using colorimetric determination of ammonium. Biol. Fertil. Soils 6, 6872. Kay, B.D., VandenBygaart, A.J., 2002. Conservation tillage and depth stratication of porosity and soil organic matter. Soil Till. Res. 66, 107118. Kononova, M.M., 1966. Soil Organic Matter, 2nd ed. Pergamon Press, Oxford. todos ociales de ana lisis. Ministerio de Agricultura, Pesca y MAPA. 1986. Me n 1, 221285. Alimentacio Martens, D.A., 2000. Plant residue biochemistry regulates soil carbon cycling and carbon sequestration. Soil Biol. Biochem. 32, 361369. Masciandaro, G., Ceccanti, B., Garcia, C., 1994. Anaerobic digestion of straw and piggery waste waters. II. Optimization of the process. Agrochimica 38, 195203. McKinley, V.L., Vestal, J.R., Eralp, A.E., 1985. Microbial activity in composting (I). Biocycle 26, 3943. Nannipieri, P., Kandeler, E., Ruggiero, P., 2002. Enzyme activities and microbiological and biochemical processes in soil. In: Burns, R.G., Dick, R.P. (Eds.), Enzymes in the Environment. Activity, Ecology and Applications. Marcel Dekker, New York, pp. 133. Oades, J.M., 1993. The role of biology in the formation, stabilization and degradation of soil structure. Geoderma 56, 377400. Pascual, J.A., Hernandez, T., Garcia, C., Ayuso, M., 1998. Enzymatic activities in an arid soil amended with urban organic wastes: laboratory experiment. Biores. Technol. 64, 131138. Piccolo, A., Pietramellara, G., Mbagwu, J.S.C., 1997. Use of humic substances as soil conditioners to increase aggregate stability. Geoderma 75, 267277. Puget, P., Chenu, C., Balasdent, J., 2000. Dynamics of soil organic matter associated with particle-size fractions of water-stable aggregates. Eur. J. Soil Sci. 51, 595 605. Randhawa, P.S., Condron, L.M., Di, H.J., Sinaj, S., McLenaghen, R.D., 2005. Effect of green manure addition on soil organic phosphorus mineralisation. Nutr. Cycl. Agroecosyst. 73, 181189. Ros, M., Hernandez, M.T., Garcia, C., 2003. Soil microbial activity after restoration of a semiarid soil by organic amendments. Soil Biol. Biochem. 35, 463469.

117

Schaffers, A.P., 2000. In situ annual nitrogen mineralization predicted by simple soil properties and short-period eld incubation. Plant Soil 221, 205219. Six, J., Bossuyt, H., Degryze, S., Denef, K., 2004. A history of research on the link between (micro)aggregates, soil biota, and soil organic matter dynamics. Soil Till. Res. 79, 731. Soil Survey Staff. 1987. Keys to soil taxonomy. SMSS Technical Monograph No. 6, 3rd ed., New York. Spaccini, R., Mbagwu, J.S.C., Igwe, C.A., Conte, P., Piccolo, A., 2004. Carbohydrates and aggregation in lowland soils of Nigeria as inuenced by organic inputs. Soil Till. Res. 75, 161172. [SSEW] Soil Survey of England and Wales, 1982. Soil Survey Laboratory methods. Technical Monograph 6, SSEW, Harpenden, UK. Statiscal Graphics Corporation, 1991. Statgraphics 5.0. Statistical Graphics System. Educational Institution Edition, USA. p. 105. Tabatabai, M.A., Bremner, J.M., 1969. Use of p-nitrophenol phosphate in assay of soil phosphatase activity. Soil Biol. Biochem. 1, 301307. Tabatabai, M.A., Bremner, J.M., 1970. Arylsulfatase activity of soils. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. Proc. 34, 225229. Tejada, M., Gonzalez, J.L., 2006. Crushed cotton gin compost on soil biological properties and rice yield. Eur. J. Agron. 25, 2229. Tejada, M., Garcia, C., Gonzalez, J.L., Hernandez, M.T., 2006a. Organic amendment based on fresh and composted beet vinasse: inuence on physical, chemical and biological properties and wheat yield. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 70, 900908. Tejada, M., Garcia, C., Gonzalez, J.L., Hernandez, M.T., 2006b. Use of organic amendment as a strategy for saline soil remediation: inuence on the physical, chemical and biological properties of soil. Soil Biol. Biochem. 38, 14131421. Tejada, M., Moreno, J.L., Hernandez, M.T., Garcia, C., 2007. Application of two beet vinasse forms on soil restoration: effects on soil properties in an arid environment in southern Spain. Agric. Ecosyst. Environ. 119, 289298. Trevors, J.T., 1984. Dehydrogenase activity in soil. A comparison between the INT and TTC assay. Soil Biol. Biochem. 16, 673674. Vance, E.D., Brookes, P.C., Jenkinson, D.S., 1987. An extraction method for measuring soil microbial biomass C. Soil Biol. Biochem. 19, 703707. Van Veen, J.A., Kuikman, P.J., 1990. Soil structural aspects of decomposition of organic matter by micro-organisms. Biogeochemistry 11, 213233. Walker, R.F., 2003. Comparison of organic and chemical soil amendments used in the reforestation of a harsh Sierra Nevada site. Rest. Ecol. 11, 446474. Whalen, J.K., Hu, Q., Liu, A., 2003. Compost application increase water-stable aggregates in conventional and no-tillage systems. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 67, 18421847. Yeomans, J.C., Bremner, J.M., 1988. A rapid and precise method for routine determination of organic carbon in soil. Comm. Soil Sci. Plant Anal. 19, 14671476. Zibilske, L.M. 1994. Carbon mineralization. In: R.W. Weaver (Ed.). Methods of soil analysis. Part 2. Microbiological and Biochemical Properties. SSSA Book Ser. 5. SSSA, Madison, WI, pp. 835863.