Returning Winter Cover Crop Residue Influences Soil Aggregation and Humic Substances under Double-cropped Rice Fields
ABSTRACT Residue management in cropping systems may improve soil quality. However, there are few studies on the effects of residue management on soil aggregation and carbon content in the humin (C-HUM), humic acid (C-HAF) and fulvic acid (C-FAF) fractions in South China. Therefore, the effects on soil aggregation and on the C-HUM, C-HAF, C-FAF from incorporating winter cover crop residues in a double-cropped rice (Oryza sativa L.) system in South China fields were studied. The experiment has been conducted since winter 2004. Five winter cropping systems were used: rice-rice-ryegrass (Ry-R-R), rice-rice-Chinese milk vetch (Mv-R-R), rice-rice-potato (Po-R-R), rice-rice-rape (Ra-R-R) and rice-rice with winter fallow (Fa-R-R). The results indicated that the organic C content in the paddy soil under the Ry-R-R, Mv-R-R, Po-R-R, and Ra-R-R systems was significantly higher than the content in the Fa-R-R system at the early rice and late rice maturity stages. The different sizes of aggregates under the five treatments showed similar trends. The Po-R-R systems had the highest percentage of soil aggregates in each size class and the Fa-R-R systems had the lowest percentage of soil aggregates in each size class in the 0.00-0.05, 0.05-0.10, and 0.10-0.20 m soil depth at the early rice and late rice maturity stages. The C-HUM, C-HAF, and C-FAF increased through long-term application of winter cover crop residues. Statistical analysis showed that the C-HAF under the Ra-R-R systems was significantly higher than that in the Fa-R-R systems at the early rice and late rice maturity stages. The C-FAF and C-HUM under the Mv-R-R systems was significantly higher than the C-FAF and C-HUM in the Fa-R-R systems at the early rice and late rice maturity stages. As a result, the soil organic C content, the soil aggregates in each size class, and the C-HUM, C-HAF, and C-FAF increased from application of winter cover crop residues in double-cropped rice systems.