19 Apr 2021

19 Apr 2021

Review status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal SOIL.

Changes in soil physicochemical properties and bacterial communities among different soil depths after long-term straw mulching under a no-till system

Zijun Zhou1,4,, Zengqiang Li2,, Kun Chen1,4, Zhaoming Chen3, Xiangzhong Zeng1,4, Hua Yu1,4, Song Guo1,4, Yuxian Shanguan1,4, Qingrui Chen1,4, Hongzhu Fan1,4, Shihua Tu1,4, Mingjiang He1,4, and Yusheng Qin1,4 Zijun Zhou et al.
  • 1Soil and Fertilizer Institute, Sichuan Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Chengdu, China
  • 2College of Resources and Environment, Qingdao Agricultural University, Qingdao, China
  • 3Institute of Environmental Resources and Soil Fertilizer, Zhejiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Hangzhou, China
  • 4Monitoring and Experimental Station of Plant Nutrition and Agro-Environment for Sloping Land in South Region, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Chengdu, China
  • These authors contributed equally to this work.

Abstract. Conservation tillage has attracted increasing attention over recent decades, mainly due to its benefits in improving soil organic matter content and reducing soil erosion. Under intensive conventional tillage systems, some studies have focused on the responses of soil properties in the topsoil to straw retention. However, long-term straw mulching effects on soil physicochemical properties and bacterial communities among different soil depths under a no-till system are still obscure. One twelve-year experiment was conducted that included straw removal (CK) and straw mulching (SM) treatments. Soil samples were collected at 0–5, 5–10, 10–20, and 20–30 cm soil depths. Most soil physicochemical properties and the relative abundances of bacterial phyla were varied with soil depth. Compared with CK, SM increased soil total nitrogen and organic carbon, available phosphorus and potassium, dissolved organic carbon and nitrogen, and water content. SM increased soil bacterial abundance but reduced the Shannon diversity of the bacterial community at 0–5 cm depth. SM increased the relative abundances of Proteobacteria, Bacteroidetes, and Acidobacteria but reduced those of Actinobacteria, Chloroflexi, and Cyanobacteria. SM had different effects on the relative abundances of some C- and N-cycling genera, for instance, increasing Rhodanobacter, Rhizomicrobium, and Terracidiphilus, and reducing Anaeromyxobacter, Mycobacterium, and Syntrophobacter. A principal coordinate analysis indicated that SM largely affected soil bacterial communities at topsoil depth. Soil pH and different nitrogen and organic carbon fractions were the major drivers shaping soil bacterial community. Overall, straw mulch is highly recommended for use under a no-till system because of its benefits to soil fertility and bacterial abundance. However, inorganic nitrogen fertilizer levels may be reduced under straw mulching to maintain or increase soil bacterial Shannon diversity in future studies.

Zijun Zhou et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on soil-2021-25', Anonymous Referee #1, 17 May 2021
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC1', Zijun Zhou, 15 Jul 2021
  • RC2: 'Comment on soil-2021-25', Anonymous Referee #2, 18 May 2021
    • AC3: 'Reply on RC2', Zijun Zhou, 19 Jul 2021
  • RC3: 'Comment on soil-2021-25', Anonymous Referee #3, 02 Jul 2021
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC3', Zijun Zhou, 15 Jul 2021

Zijun Zhou et al.


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Short summary
Straw mulching is not always combined with no-till during conservation tillage. Here we explored the effects of long-term straw mulching on soil attributes with soil depths under a no-till system. Compared to straw removal, straw mulching did various effects on soil properties at different depths, and the biggest difference occurred at the topsoil depth. Overall, straw mulch is highly recommended for use under the no-till system because of its benefits to soil fertility and bacterial abundance.