Factors determining soil nutrient distribution in a small-scaled watershed in the purple soil region of Sichuan Province, China

H.J. Wang, X.Z. Shi, D.S. Yu, D.C. Weindorf, B. Huang, W.X. Sun, C.J. Ritsema, E. Milne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

67 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Determining soil nutrient distribution is critical to identify sites which are at risk of N and P loading. Equally important are determining factors that influence such distribution (e.g. land use, land management, topography, etc.). In this research, soil nutrient distribution and its influencing factors were studied in a small-scaled watershed in the purple soil region of Sichuan Province, China. The watershed is 1.3 km2 with a complex land management system including agriculture and forestry. Surface soil samples (0¿20 cm) from 48 sites within the watershed were collected in the spring of 1999 and analysed for chemical properties. When spatial distribution patterns of soil organic matter and soil nutrients were considered, several patterns were evident. Soil organic matter and total nitrogen coincided with high soil nutrients in the center of the watershed. Total phosphorus was linked to low soil nutrient contents on hilltops, while total potassium was characterized by low variability and high soil nutrient content throughout the watershed. Water-soluble nutrients in soils were highly variable throughout the watershed. Results of this study indicate that land use, topography and other variables play important roles in controlling the spatial distribution of most soil nutrients. However, the relative roles of these indices were nutrient specific. The relationship was therefore complex. Land use, silt, and sand content contributed to a high level of heterogeneity for soil organic matter and total nitrogen with the former being the dominant factor. Land use, particle size distribution (silt and sand) and topographic factors (slope and elevation) contributed to the variability of total phosphorus. However, particle size distribution and topographic factors were the dominant factors affecting total phosphorus. Elevation influenced the concentration of total potassium and land use controlled the concentration of dissolved phosphorous. No significant relationship was found between the studied characteristics and nitrate nitrogen
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)300-306
JournalSoil & Tillage Research
Volume105
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2009

Keywords

  • different land uses
  • organic-carbon
  • landscape position
  • loess plateau
  • hilly area
  • tillage
  • variability
  • phosphorus
  • management
  • matter

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