Effects of Ca:Mg ratio and pH on soil chemical, physical and microbiological properties and grass N yield in drained peat soil

Joachim G.C. Deru*, Nyncke Hoekstra, Maaike van Agtmaal, Jaap Bloem, Ron de Goede, Lijbert Brussaard, Nick van Eekeren

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

In three dairy grasslands on peat, minerals were added to manipulate the soil Ca:Mg ratio with or without effect on pH. The responses of soil properties and grass N yield were measured. CaCO3 application led to higher soil Ca:Mg ratio and pHKCl compared to the untreated control, decreased Ntotal and Ctotal, and increased P availability. Grass N yield increased in the first year by only 6% of the reduction in soil Ntotal, but not in the second year. A higher pH increased SOM decomposition, especially in soils with high P availability. MgCO3 reduced the Ca:Mg ratio, had little influence on soil parameters and no effect on grass N yield. In contrast, CaSO4 and MgSO4 did not influence pHKCl but reduced grass N yield in most cases. Results suggest stabilisation of organic matter by Ca binding in treatments with added Ca. We conclude that grass N yield was not linked with changes in Ca:Mg ratio but with soil pH. The pH effects on SOM decomposition depended on P availability and Ca binding. Hence, to avoid potentially large soil losses of C and N, the current agricultural advice on pH management in peat grasslands should be better adapted to local edaphic characteristics.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNew Zealand Journal of Agricultural Research
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Oct 2021

Keywords

  • Grassland
  • gypsum
  • histosol
  • kieserite
  • lime
  • soil organic matter
  • soil quality

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