The effect of inorganic fertilizer application on compost and crop litter decomposition dynamics in sandy soil

Van der Ham, Ilana (2015-03)

Thesis (MSc)--Stellenbosch University, 2015.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Inorganic fertilizer applications are common practice in commercial agriculture, yet not much is known regarding their interaction with organic matter and soil biota. Much research has been done on the effect of inorganic N on forest litter decomposition, yet very little research has focused on the effect of inorganic fertilizers on crop litters and, to our knowledge, none on composted organic matter. Furthermore none of the research has been done in South Africa. The main aim of this research project was to determine the effect of inorganic fertilizer applications on the decomposition of selected organic matter sources commonly used in South African agriculture and forestry. Two decomposition studies were conducted over a 3-month period, one on composts and the other on plant litters, using a local, sandy soil. In the first experiment a lower quality compost, compost A (C:N ratio, 17.67), and higher quality compost, compost B (C:N ratio, 4.92) was treated with three commercially used fertilizer treatments. Two were typical blends used for vegetable (tomato and cabbage) production: tomato fertilizer (10:2:15) (100 kg N, 20 kg P, 150 kg K per ha) and cabbage fertilizer (5:2:4) (250 kg N, 100 kg P, 200 kg K per ha). The third fertilizer blend, an equivalent mass application of N and P applied at 150 kg of each element per ha, is more commonly used in pastures. In the second experiment, five commonly encountered crop and forestry litters, namely kikuyu grass, lucerne residues, pine needles, sugar cane trash and wheat straw, were selected to represent the labile organic matter sources. The litters were treated with the tomato and cabbage fertilizer applications rates. Both decomposition experiments were conducted under ambient laboratory conditions at field water capacity. Decomposition rates were monitored by determining CO2 emissions, DOC production, β-glucosidase and polyphenol oxidase activity (PPO). At the start and end of decomposition study, loss on ignition was performed to assess the total loss of OM. Based on the results obtained from these two experiments, it was concluded that the addition of high N containing inorganic fertilizers enhanced the decomposition of both composted and labile organic matter. For both compost and plant litters, DOC production was greatly enhanced with the addition of inorganic fertilizers regardless of the organic matter quality. The conclusion can be made that inherent N in organic matter played a role in the response of decomposition to inorganic fertilizer application with organic matter low in inherent N showing greater responses in decomposition changes. For labile organic matter polyphenol and cellulose content also played a role in the responses observed from inorganic fertilizer applications.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Anorganiese kunsmis toedieningss is algemene praktyk in die kommersiële landbou sektor,maar nog min is bekend oor hul interaksie met organiese materiaal en grond biota. Baie navorsing is reeds oor die uitwerking van anorganiese N op woud en plantasiereste se ontbinding gedoen. Baie min navorsing het gefokus op die uitwerking van anorganiese kunsmis op die gewasreste en tot ons kennis, is daar geen navorsing gedoen op die invloed van anorganiese kunsmis op gekomposteer organiese material nie. Verder is geeneen van die navorsing studies is in Suid-Afrika gedoen nie. Die hoofdoel van hierdie navorsingsprojek was om die effek van anorganiese kunsmis toedienings op die ontbinding van geselekteerde organiese materiaal bronne, wat algemeen gebruik word in die Suid-Afrikaanse landbou en bosbou, te bepaal. Twee ontbinding studies is gedoen oor 'n 3-maande-tydperk, een op kompos en die ander op die plantreste, met die gebruik van 'n plaaslike, sanderige grond. In die eerste eksperiment is ‘n laer gehalte kompos, kompos A (C: N verhouding, 17.67), en 'n hoër gehalte kompos, kompos B (C: N verhouding, 4.92) met drie kommersieel anorganiese bemesting behandelings behandel. Twee was tipiese versnitte gebruik vir die groente (tamatie en kool) produksie: tamatie kunsmis (10: 2:15) (100 kg N, 20 kg P, 150 kg K per ha) en kool kunsmis (5: 2: 4) (250 kg N, 100 kg P, 200 kg K per ha). Die derde kunsmis versnit was 'n ekwivalente massa toepassing van N en P van 150 kg van elke element per ha, wat meer algemeen gebruik word in weiding. In die tweede eksperiment was vyf algemeen gewas en bosbou reste, naamlik kikoejoegras, lusern reste, dennenaalde, suikerriet reste en koring strooi, gekies om die labiele organiese materiaal bronne te verteenwoordig. Die reste is met die tamatie en kool kunsmis toedienings behandel. Beide ontbinding eksperimente is uitgevoer onder normale laboratorium toestande by veldwaterkapasiteit. Ontbinding tempo is deur die bepaling van die CO2-vrystellings, opgelosde organiese koolstof (OOK) produksie, β-glukosidase en polifenol oksidase aktiwiteit (PPO) gemonitor. Aan die begin en einde van ontbinding studie, is verlies op ontbranding uitgevoer om die totale verlies van OM te evalueer. Gebaseer op die resultate van hierdie twee eksperimente, was die gevolgtrekking dat die toevoeging van hoë N bevattende anorganiese bemestingstowwe die ontbinding van beide komposte en plant reste verhoog. Vir beide kompos en plantreste word OOK produksie verhoog met die toevoeging van anorganiese bemesting, ongeag van die organiese materiaal gehalte. Die gevolgtrekking kan gemaak word dat die inherente N in organiese materiaal 'n rol gespeel het in die reaksie van ontbinding op anorganiese bemesting toedienings met die grootste reaksie in organiese material laag in inherente N. Vir labiele organiese material het polifenol en sellulose inhoud ook 'n rol gespeel in die reaksie waargeneeming op anorganiese bemesting.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/97109
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