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Applied and Environmental Soil Science publishes research in the field of soil science. Its focus reflects the multidisciplinary nature of soil science, especially the dynamics and spatial heterogeneity of processes in soil.
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Age of Soil and Water Conservation Practices on Selected Soil Properties along the Toposequence of Gerado Watershed, Habru District, Eastern Amhara, Ethiopia
The government of Ethiopia through community participation has widely implemented soil and water conservation (SWC) measures, especially in the highlands of Ethiopia. However, the effects of these practices on the physicochemical properties of soils have not been well assessed and documented in the study area. Thus, this experiment was conducted to evaluate the effects of SWC practice on selected soil physicochemical properties. Treatments were nonconserved land, 3- and 9-year-old soil conservation practices under three slope positions, namely, lower slope (0–8%), middle slope (9–15%), and upper slope (>15%) positions, and at two soil depths (0–20 and 20–40 cm) with three replications. Accordingly, 54 composite soil samples were collected and analyzed based on standard procedures. The results showed that the age of soil and water conservation practice, topography, and soil depths significantly affected most of the soil properties. Conserving the watershed for nine years improved the subsoil clay content from 37.1 to 46.3%, subsoil soil moisture content from 13.38 to 24.61%, surface total nitrogen content from 18.1 to 81%, available phosphorus content from 13.1 to 33.5 mg kg−1, surface organic carbon from 0.28 to 2.83%, soil carbon stock from 9.26 to 35.59 t ha−1, and surface cation exchange capacity from 21.5 to 57.4 Cmolec kg−1. Therefore, maintaining soil and water conservation practices for long periods can improve soil properties. However, planting different grasses, with the existing physical structures is needed to increase soil nutrient and carbon stock.
Examining the Effect of Combined Biochar and Lime Rates on Selected Soil Physicochemical Properties of Acid Soils in Gimbi District, Western Ethiopia
The physicochemical properties of Western Ethiopian soils were negatively threatened with continuous cultivation crop lands. Soil amendments with biochar and lime facilitate and improve soil physicochemical properties directly and indirectly and enhance crop productivity. A field experiment was conducted in Gimbi District, Western Ethiopia, to examine the effects of combined coffee husk biochar (CHB) and soil test value-based lime (STV) rate application on physicochemical properties of acid soils. The trial included eight treatments, including control, 100% STV, 10 ton of CHB, and CHB + STV rates at 10 ton + 75%, 10 ton + 50%, 7.5 ton + 75%, 7.5 ton + 50%, and 5 ton + 75% ha−1on two farm fields. The fields were laid out in RCBD with three replications. The treatments had substantial effects on ) on the soil’s physicochemical characteristics. The application of biochar and lime in Farms-1 and 2 reduced soil BD from 1.21 and 1.41 g·cm−3 to 1.15 and 1.12 to 0.90 and 0.97 g·cm−3, respectively. The soil pH level was increased from 5.10 to a range of 5.58 to 6.11 in Farm-1, and in Farm-2, from 4.64 to a range of 4.64 to 6.22 levels. The application of 10 ton of CHB + 75% of STV in Farms-1 and 2 resulted in the highest SOC of 7.44% and 7.68%, respectively. The application of 10 ton of CHB + 75% of STV in Farms-1 and 2 resulted in 4.86 mg·kg−1 and 6.96 mg·kg−1 available P, respectively. Available P was positively correlated with pH (0.62), SOC (0.63), and CEC (0.66). Exchangeable acidity was decreased from 4.64 cmol(+)kg−1 to a range from 3.19 to 0.98 cmol(+)kg−1 in Farm-1 and from 5.00 cmol(+)kg−1 to a range from 3.38 to 1.10 cmol(+)kg−1 in Farm-2. Therefore, amending the strongly acidic to very strongly acidic soil with a combined CHB (7.5 to 10 ton ha−1) and STV (50 to 75% ha−1) rates had improved the soil physicochemical properties of agricultural lands. To make a firm conclusion, research on soil analysis after crop harvest and economic benefit is required.
Olericulture No-Till System at Mountain Region: Physical and Biological Attributes of the Soil
The production of vegetables and grains by the family farming in the mountains of the Atlantic Forest is characterized by intensive soil management with ploughing and harrowing practices. These practices are promoting hydric erosion and losses of soil quality in the region. In this context, the objective of this work was to evaluate soil physical and biological characteristics at two seasons of the year in agroecosystems producing vegetables and grains in the no-tillage system (NTS) for 3, 5, and 9 years compared to the conventional management system (CT) in the Atlantic Forest Biome, Brazil. Physical and organic matter attributes and carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) stock were evaluated. NTS showed, in general, greater total porosity than CT systems. The main differences between the systems were found in the organic attributes and C and N stocks. The content of microbial biomass C in NTS with 3, 5, and 9 years was 767.5, 326.5, and 210.0 mg·kg−1, while the areas with CT had 93.75, 78.25, and 45.75 mg·kg−1, respectively. The stock of C in winter at the 9NTS area was 33.0 and 41.5 Mg·ha−1, and the respective area in CT presented only 21.75 and 25.00 Mg·ha−1 in the depths of 0–10 and 10–20 cm, respectively. The metabolic quotient of the NTS areas did not differ from the reference ecosystems and is promoting lower C-CO2 emissions than the CT system. The adoption of NTS in vegetable production improves soil quality in family farm areas of mountains relief at the Atlantic Forest Biome.
Reuse of Sewage Sludge as Organic Agricultural Products: An Efficient Technology-Based Initiative
Rapid urbanisation has led to a dramatic increase in sewage sludge production. There are limited methods of managing sewage sludge along with high energy and monetary investment. A cost-effective, environment-friendly, and sustainable solution needs to be developed for the management of sewage sludge. In the current study, sludge from the Jagjeetpur sewage treatment plant (STP) had been collected, composted, and characterized during January and February 2022. A comparison of STP sludge compost and compost made from farmyard manure showed the presence of essential agricultural nutrients in them, due to which they find application for plant growth. Two products, Jaivik Poshak and Jaivik Prom, containing farmyard compost, were compared with the amended version of the same, containing compost from STP sludge instead of normal compost. The results showed that the modified Jaivik Poshak was the best for maintaining pH and increasing electrical conductivity. The available nitrogen in the soil upon its application increased by 1.6 times () with respect to control, and it brought about 100% tomato seed germination within sixteen days. The above finding has been validated by goodness of fit value, factor analysis, and hierarchical analysis. The product, modified Jaivik Prom increased organic carbon content and brought about 5.81 and 8 times the enhancement in available phosphorous () and potassium () content in soil, respectively, with respect to the control set. The heavy metal content in the soil as a result of all types of treatment was within the permissible limit. This study thus proves that sludge from STP may be used for agricultural uses after proper fortification and testing to convert waste to wealth along with environmental sustenance.
Evaluation of Activated Carbons Prepared from Bioprecursors for the Removal of Cadmium and Chromium (VI)
Trace metals found in industrial effluents are highly toxic pollutants, and these include cadmium and chromium (VI). The objective of this work is to remove cadmium and chromium (VI) on activated carbons, prepared from biomaterials such as nuclei of Ziziphus lotus and coffee grounds. The characterization of adsorbents was performed by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and X-ray diffraction (XRD). The results of the characterization showed an important porosity on the activated carbon’s surface, with sizes between 6 and 50 μm. Similarly, the adsorption results showed that the adsorption process is very rapid and that the increase in contact time and temperature improves the efficiency of the Cd and Cr(VI) removal process. Indeed, abatement rates (R%) of 80% for Cr(VI) and 60% for Cd were obtained after 80 minutes of adsorption on activated carbon prepared from Ziziphus lotus, whereas activated carbon obtained from coffee grounds allows a reduction rate of about 50% for Cr(VI) and Cd. Hence, it seems clearly that the activated carbon of Ziziphus lotus is more effective than that of coffee grounds, especially for the Cr(VI) adsorption. The kinetic modeling of the adsorption process followed the pseudo-second-order model, and the Freundlich model has better explained the adsorption isotherm for Cd and Cr(VI). The thermodynamic study showed that adsorption was spontaneous and endothermic.
Soil Physicochemical Properties Variation under Annual Crop and Coffee Landuse in the Chentale Watershed, Upper Blue Nile Basin, Ethiopia
A detrimental decline in soil fertility has been attributed to losses in arable land productivity in Ethiopia. In this line, several studies were conducted to enable informed decisions; however, monitoring soil property dynamics in different biophysical, climatic, and cropping systems is yet to be adequate to support and influence decision and policymakers. To this end, this study evaluated soil physicochemical properties on land managed for annual crops and coffee land use in the Chentale watershed, the upper Blue Nile basin, Ethiopia. About 24 soil samples were collected from the two land uses and soil depths (topsoil: 0–15 cm and subsoil: 15–30 cm) with 6 replications for soil properties analysis. The result showed that most of the soil parameters varied significantly with land uses and were higher with coffee landuse () than with cropland. Furthermore, a neutral pH range, clay loam texture, medium level of organic matter (3.93%) and nitrogen (0.18%), high level of available phosphorus (23.35 PPM), and high to very high level of exchangeable base were recorded from coffee landuse than from cropland. Whereas the mean values of organic matter (OM) and total nitrogen (TN) decreased significantly () decreased in the subsoil. However, most of the physical and chemical properties of the soil did not vary significantly with depth. Moreover, low pH, low OM content, and low TN are the main properties of soil considered constraints of soil fertility in cropland at both depths. Therefore, it is recommended to maintain agroforestry practices, reduce the intensity of tilling, and supply organic materials to sustain the productivity of cropland.