Organic Inputs and Chemical Fertilizer on Carbon Mineralization From Two Ultisols

  •  Daniel M. Kalala    
  •  Victor Shitumbanuma    
  •  Noah Adamtey    
  •  Benson H. Chishala    


There are challenges that limit the use of organic inputs for soil fertility management. Amongst them is the limited knowledge of factors that affect rates of decomposition and nutrient release from different organic inputs. A study was conducted on surface soil samples of two Ultisols to determine factors affecting carbon (C) mineralization from selected organic inputs. A loamy sand (LS) from a Kandiustult and a sandy clay loam (SCL) from a Paleustult were used. Fine earth fractions of the soils mixed with organic inputs with and without chemical fertilizer were incubated for 13 weeks and the CO2 evolved was measured. Organic inputs used were biomasses of Cajanus cajan, Tephrosia vogelii, Crotalaria juncea, Mucuna pruriens, a mixture of native grasses and shrubs and composted cattle manure. The latter two inputs are traditionally used by farmers, while the leguminous plants were recommended by scientists. Treatments with chemical fertilizer only, representing the conventional farming practice, and a control with soil alone were included. Addition of organic inputs with or without fertilizer increased total CO2 emissions by 81 to 129% on the LS and by 18 to 34% on the SCL. Adding chemical fertilizer significantly (p < 0.05) increased C mineralization rate constant (k) by 116% on the LS and 48% on the SCL. The mean residence time of organic carbon from treatments grouped by input type followed the order: Control > Traditional > Legumes > Conventional on both soils. In general, the k on the LS was double that on the SCL. The type of organic input, soil texture and application of chemical fertilizer significantly affected C mineralization rates from the soils.

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