• Divergent changes between surface and deep soil;
  • plant–soil interactions;
  • soil fertility;
  • temporal changes evaluation;
  • vertical changes


Soil physic-chemical properties differ at different depths; however, differences in afforestation-induced temporal changes at different soil depths are seldom reported. By examining 19 parameters, the temporal changes and their interactions with soil depth in a large chronosequence dataset (159 plots; 636 profiles; 2544 samples) of larch plantations were checked by multivariate analysis of covariance (MANCOVA). No linear temporal changes were found in 9 parameters (N, K, N:P, available forms of N, P, K and ratios of N: available N, P: available P and K: available K), while marked linear changes were found in the rest 10 parameters. Four of them showed divergent temporal changes between surface and deep soils. At surface soils, changing rates were 262.1 g·kg−1·year−1 for SOM, 438.9 mg·g−1·year−1 for C:P, 5.3 mg·g−1·year−1 for C:K, and −3.23 mg·cm−3·year−1 for bulk density, while contrary tendencies were found in deeper soils. These divergences resulted in much moderated or no changes in the overall 80-cm soil profile. The other six parameters showed significant temporal changes for overall 0–80-cm soil profile (P: −4.10 mg·kg−1·year−1; pH: −0.0061 unit·year−1; C:N: 167.1 mg·g−1·year−1; K:P: 371.5 mg·g−1 year−1; N:K: −0.242 mg·g−1·year−1; EC: 0.169 μS·cm−1·year−1), but without significant differences at different soil depths (> 0.05). Our findings highlight the importance of deep soils in studying physic-chemical changes of soil properties, and the temporal changes occurred in both surface and deep soils should be fully considered for forest management and soil nutrient balance.