Soil resilience and recovery: rapid community responses to management changes

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Hirsch, P. R., Jhurreea, D., Williams, J. K., Murray, P. J., Scott, T., Misselbrook, T. H., Goulding, K. W. T. and Clark, I. M. 2017. Soil resilience and recovery: rapid community responses to management changes. Plant and Soil. 412 (1-2), pp. 283-297.

AuthorsHirsch, P. R., Jhurreea, D., Williams, J. K., Murray, P. J., Scott, T., Misselbrook, T. H., Goulding, K. W. T. and Clark, I. M.
Abstract

Background and aims
Soil degradation is a major global problem; to investigate the potential for recovery of soil biota and associated key functions, soils were monitored during the early years of conversion between permanent grassland, arable cropping and bare fallow (maintained by regular tilling). Distinct differences in soil properties had become apparent 50 years after a previous conversion.

Methods
Subplots on previously permanent grassland, arable and bare fallow soil were converted to the two alternatives, generating 9 treatments. Soil properties (soil organic carbon, mesofauna, microbial community structure and activity) were measured.

Results
After 2 years, mesofauna and microbial abundance increased where plants were grown on previously bare fallow soils and declined where grassland was converted to bare fallow treatment. Overall prokaryote community composition remained more similar to the previous treatments of the converted plots than to the new treatments but there were significant changes in the relative abundance of some groups and functional genes. Four years after conversion, SOC in arable and bare fallow soils converted to grassland had increased significantly.

Conclusions
Conversion to permanent grassland effectively replenished C in previously degraded soil; the soil microbiome showed significant conversion-related changes; plant-driven recovery was quicker than C loss in the absence of plants.

Keywordssoil microbiome; soil bacteria; soil fungi; soil mesofauna; soil organic carbon; grass; wheat; bare fallow soil; nitrogen-cycling genes
Year of Publication2017
JournalPlant and Soil
Journal citation412 (1-2), pp. 283-297
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1007/s11104-016-3068-x
Open accessPublished as ‘gold’ (paid) open access
FunderBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Funder project or codeOptimisation of nutrients in soil-plant systems: How can we control nitrogen cycling in soil?
Publisher's version
Copyright license
CC BY
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online30 Sep 2016
Publication process dates
Accepted21 Sep 2016
PublisherSpringer
ISSN0032-079X

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