Special Issue "Soil Fertility and Nutrient Cycling"

A special issue of Plants (ISSN 2223-7747).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 December 2017).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Jim Moir
Website
Guest Editor
Associate Professor, Soil Science Department, Lincoln University, Christchurch, Lincoln 7647, New Zealand
Interests: soil fertility; nutrient cycling in soil/plant/animal systems, fertilisers; plant nutrition; pasture legumes; nutrient use efficiency
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Soil fertility management and nutrient cycling are complex and central to plant function and agricultural productivity. Many factors influence the availability of soil nutrients to plants and soil organisms, including site fertilizer history, soil type, local climate, vegetation type (species, rooting depth, root architecture) and soil parent material. Whether or not the nutrients are cycled back to the soil, or are transported away from the site will also have major effects on soil fertility status. In pasture and extensive grassland based ecosystems, some aspects of nutrient cycling are still poorly understood. We require more knowledge on nutrient efficient forages, especially nitrogen-fixing legumes and the soil/plant mechanisms involved. Further, in arable systems, fertilizer nutrient use efficiency by plants is often very low. New fertilizer technologies are on the horizon to improve efficiencies and are showing considerable promise. The ability of some plant species to persist and flourish in extremes of acid or alkaline soil pH conditions is also of considerable interest. If soil/plant interactions under such conditions are better understood, there is potential to improve yields and to develop large areas of unproductive land. This Special Issue of Plants will focus on the importance of soil fertility in terms of nutrient supply to plants and the complex interactions between soils and plants.

Dr. Jim Moir
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • soil fertility
  • nutrient cycling
  • fertilizers
  • soil pH
  • grassland
  • arable crops
  • soil nutrient availability
  • soil/plant interactions
  • plant growth and function

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Effects of Medium-Term Amendment with Diversely Processed Sewage Sludge on Soil Humification—Mineralization Processes and on Cu, Pb, Ni, and Zn Bioavailability
Plants 2018, 7(1), 16; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants7010016 - 02 Mar 2018
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1782
Abstract
The organic fraction of sewage sludge administered to agricultural soil can contribute to slowing down the loss of soil’s organic carbon and, in some cases, can improve the physical and mechanical properties of the soil. One of the main constraints to the agricultural [...] Read more.
The organic fraction of sewage sludge administered to agricultural soil can contribute to slowing down the loss of soil’s organic carbon and, in some cases, can improve the physical and mechanical properties of the soil. One of the main constraints to the agricultural use of sewage sludge is its heavy metals content. In the long term, agricultural administration of sewage sludge to soil could enhance the concentration of soil heavy metals (as total and bioavailable fractions). The aim of this research was to evaluate the effects of medium-term fertilization with diversely processed sewage sludge on the soil’s organic carbon content and humification–mineralization processes, on the physical–mechanical properties of soil and their influence on the pool of potentially bioavailable heavy metals, in order to assess their effectiveness as soil organic amendments. After eight years of sludge administration; an increase in the concentrations of bioavailable form was evidenced in all the heavy metals analyzed; independently of the type of sludge administered. The form of sludge administration (liquid, dehydrated, composted) has differently influenced the soil humification–mineralization processes and the physical–mechanical properties of soil. The prolonged amendment with composted sewage sludge contributed to keeping the soil humification–mineralization process in equilibrium and to improving the physical and mechanical qualities of the treated soil. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil Fertility and Nutrient Cycling)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Nitrogen Fertilizer Management in Dryland Wheat Cropping Systems
Plants 2018, 7(1), 9; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants7010009 - 29 Jan 2018
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 2675
Abstract
Wheat is the most widely cultivated food crop in the world, which provides nutrition to most of the world population and is well adapted to a wide range of environmental conditions. Timely and efficient rates of nitrogen (N) application are vital for increasing [...] Read more.
Wheat is the most widely cultivated food crop in the world, which provides nutrition to most of the world population and is well adapted to a wide range of environmental conditions. Timely and efficient rates of nitrogen (N) application are vital for increasing wheat grain yield and protein content, and maintaining environmental sustainability. The goal of this study was to investigate the effect of using different rates and split application of N on the performance of spring wheat in dryland cropping systems. The experiment was conducted in three different locations in Montana and Idaho during two consecutive growing seasons. A split-plot experimental design was used with three at planting N fertilization application (0, 90 and 135 kg N ha−1) and two topdressing N fertilization strategies as treatments. A number of variables such as grain yield (GY), protein content (GP) in the grains and N uptake (NUP) were assessed. There was a significant effect of climate, N rate, and time application on the wheat performance. The results showed that at-planting N fertilizer application of 90 kg N ha−1 has significantly increased GY, GP and NUP. On the other hand, for these site-years, increasing at-planting N fertilizer rate to 135 kg N ha−1 did not further enhance wheat GY, GP and NUP values. For all six site-years, topdress N fertilizer applied at flowering did not improve wheat GY, GP and NUP compared to at-planting fertilizer alone. As the risk of yield loss is minimal with split N application, from these results we concluded the best treatment for study is treatments that had received 90 kg N ha−1 split as 45 kg N ha−1 at planting and 45 kg N ha−1 at flowering. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil Fertility and Nutrient Cycling)
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Open AccessArticle
Nitrogen Nutrition of Fruit Trees to Reconcile Productivity and Environmental Concerns
Plants 2018, 7(1), 4; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants7010004 - 10 Jan 2018
Cited by 22 | Viewed by 2122
Abstract
Although perennial fruit crops represent 1% of global agricultural land, they are of a great economic importance in world trade and in the economy of many regions. The perennial woody nature of fruit trees, their physiological stages of growth, the root distribution pattern, [...] Read more.
Although perennial fruit crops represent 1% of global agricultural land, they are of a great economic importance in world trade and in the economy of many regions. The perennial woody nature of fruit trees, their physiological stages of growth, the root distribution pattern, and the presence of herbaceous vegetation in alleys make orchard systems efficient in the use and recycling of nitrogen (N). The present paper intends to review the existing literature on N nutrition of young and mature deciduous and evergreen fruit trees with special emphasis to temperate and Mediterranean climates. There are two major sources of N contributing to vegetative tree growth and reproduction: root N uptake and internal N cycling. Optimisation of the use of external and internal N sources is important for a sustainable fruit production, as N use efficiency by young and mature fruit trees is generally lower than 55% and losses of fertilizer N may occur with the consequent economic and environmental concern. Organic alternatives to mineral N fertilizer like the application of manure, compost, mulching, and cover crops are scarcely used in perennial fruit trees, in spite of the fact that society’s expectations call for more sustainable production techniques and the demand for organic fruits is increasing. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil Fertility and Nutrient Cycling)
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Open AccessArticle
Alfalfa Responses to Gypsum Application Measured Using Undisturbed Soil Columns
Plants 2017, 6(3), 29; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants6030029 - 11 Jul 2017
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1914
Abstract
Gypsum is an excellent source of Ca and S, both of which are required for crop growth. Large amounts of by-product gypsum [Flue gas desulfurization gypsum-(FGDG)] are produced from coal combustion in the United States, but only 4% is used for agricultural purposes. [...] Read more.
Gypsum is an excellent source of Ca and S, both of which are required for crop growth. Large amounts of by-product gypsum [Flue gas desulfurization gypsum-(FGDG)] are produced from coal combustion in the United States, but only 4% is used for agricultural purposes. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of (1) untreated, (2) short-term (4-year annual applications of gypsum totaling 6720 kg ha−1), and (3) long-term (12-year annual applications of gypsum totaling 20,200 kg ha−1) on alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) growth and nutrient uptake, and gypsum movement through soil. The study was conducted in a greenhouse using undisturbed soil columns of two non-sodic soils (Celina silt loam and Brookston loam). Aboveground growth of alfalfa was not affected by gypsum treatments when compared with untreated (p > 0.05). Total root biomass (0–75 cm) for both soils series was significantly increased by gypsum application (p = 0.04), however, increased root growth was restricted to 0–10 cm depth. Soil and plant analyses indicated no unfavorable environmental impact from of the 4-year and 12-year annual application of FGDG. We concluded that under sufficient water supply, by-product gypsum is a viable source of Ca and S for land application that might benefit alfalfa root growth, but has less effect on aboveground alfalfa biomass production. Undisturbed soil columns were a useful adaptation of the lysimeter method that allowed detailed measurements of alfalfa nutrient uptake, root biomass, and yield and nutrient movement in soil. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil Fertility and Nutrient Cycling)
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