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Keywords:

  • soil conservation;
  • terracing;
  • hedgerow;
  • soil properties;
  • Three-Gorges Area;
  • PR China

Abstract

Mountain region citrus production systems occupy large parts of the landscape prone to soil erosion in the Three-Gorges Area of China. Several soil conservation measures, such as terracing hedgerows, are widely implemented in citrus orchards to control soil erosion. However, little is known about the effect of those measures on soil properties. The objective of this work was to analyse the changes of soil properties in citrus orchards subjected to different conservation measures. Experiments were conducted in four plots: control plot (SC, sloping orchard without conservation measures), sloping orchard with contour hedgerows (SCH), terraced orchard (TC) and terraced orchard with grass cover (TCG). Samples of soil surface from 0 to 15 cm were collected to analyse texture, bulk density (BD), aggregate stability, saturated hydraulic conductivity, soil organic matter (SOM) and soil nutrients. The spatial variability of those properties was also evaluated at slope and field scales. The results showed that the three conservation measures significantly increased saturated hydraulic conductivity, aggregate stability, SOM and available N, P, K, but decreased BD. The terracing with grass cover measures were the most effective in improving soil fertility among the three measures. The average SOM, available P, N, K in TCG were 0·27, 0·50, 1·74 and 1·72 and these rates are larger than for the in SC. Compared to SC, silt content was increased the SCH, while clay content was increased with TC and TCG. There was a downslope increase in clay content and total N but a decrease in gravels in the SC plot. However, that trend did not exist in the other plots. At the field scale, the soil aggregate stability and total nitrogen were significantly higher near the hedgerow under SCH, and the available N was significantly higher in the middle position under TC; the other soil properties had no significant trends based on the distance to hedgerow or stone bunds. Results of this study will contribute to a further understanding of the environmental influence of soil conservation measures. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.