ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202203.0008.v1
Subject: Biology, Agricultural Sciences & Agronomy Keywords: Sustainable dryland farming; clay soil amendment; soil water use; organic matter; enzyme activity; nutrient turnover
Online: 1 March 2022 (08:27:33 CET)
Degraded soils causing from natural and human affects are universal in arid and semi-arid regions all over the world. Bentonite and humic acid (BHA) are increasingly being tested to remediate these degraded lands with potential benefits on crop production and soil health. The objective of this paper was to determine the residual effects four to five years after a one-time BHA application at six rates on (i) dynamic changes in soil properties, and (ii) oat crop productivity parameters, in a dryland farming ecosystem. With increasing rates of one-time BHA application, soil profile water storage displayed a piecewise linear increase plus plateau, whereas soil electrical conductivity, pH and bulk density were all reduced significantly (P < 0.05) in the 0-20 cm and 20-60 cm layers. The improved soil environments gave rise to an increased activity of soil enzymes urease, invertase and catalase that respectively reached the peak values of 97%, 37% and 32% at the rates of 21 to 24 Mg BHA ha-1. These conversely boosted soil nutrient turnover, leading to a 40% higher soil available P. Compared with the control treatment, application of BHA at the estimated optimum rate (roughly 24 Mg ha-1) increased grain yield by 20%, protein yield by 62%, water use efficiency by 41%, and partial factor productivity of N by 20%. Results of this study showed for the first time that a one-time BHA application would be a new and effective strategy to combat land degradation, drought, and promote a sustainable soil micro-ecological environment in dryland agroecosystem under a varying climate scenario.