Please wait a minute...
Journal of Integrative Agriculture  2021, Vol. 20 Issue (1): 236-247    DOI: 10.1016/S2095-3119(20)63347-0
Special Issue: 农业生态环境-土壤微生物合辑Agro-ecosystem & Environment—Soil microbe
Agro-ecosystem & Environment Advanced Online Publication | Current Issue | Archive | Adv Search |
Effects of long-term straw return on soil organic carbon fractions and enzyme activities in a double-cropped rice paddy in South China
HUANG Wan, WU Jian-fu, PAN Xiao-hua, TAN Xue-ming, ZENG Yong-jun, SHI Qing-hua, LIU Tao-ju, ZENG Yan-hua
Key Laboratory of Crop Physiology, Ecology and Genetic Breeding, Ministry of Education/Collaborative Innovation Center for the Modernization Production of Double Cropping Rice/College of Agronomy, Jiangxi Agricultural University, Nanchang 330045, P.R.China
Download:  PDF in ScienceDirect  
Export:  BibTeX | EndNote (RIS)      


Long-term straw return is an important carbon source for improving soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks in croplands, and straw removal through burning is also a common practice in open fields in South China.  However, the specific effects of long-term rice straw management on SOC fractions, the related enzyme activities and their relationships, and whether these effects differ between crop growing seasons remain unknown.  Three treatments with equal nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium nutrient inputs, including straw/ash and chemical nutrients, were established to compare the effects of straw removal (CK), straw return (SR), and straw burned return (SBR).  Compared to CK, long-term SR tended to improve the yield of early season rice (P=0.057), and significantly increased total organic carbon (TOC) and microbial biomass carbon (MBC) in double-cropped rice paddies.  While SBR had no effect on TOC, it decreased light fraction organic carbon (LFOC) in early rice and easily oxidizable organic carbon (EOC) in late rice, significantly increased dissolved organic carbon (DOC), and significantly decreased soil pH.  These results showed that MBC was the most sensitive indicator for assessing changes of SOC in the double-cropped rice system due to long-term straw return.  In addition, the different effects on SOC fraction sizes between SR and SBR were attributed to the divergent trends in most of the soil enzyme activities in the early and late rice that mainly altered DOC, while DOC was positively affected by β-xylosidase in both early and late rice.  We concluded that straw return was superior to straw burned return for improving SOC fractions, but the negative effects on soil enzyme activities in late rice require further research.
Keywords:  double-cropped rice paddy system        straw return        straw burned return        SOC fractions        soil enzyme activities  
Received: 01 January 2020   Accepted:
Fund: This work was supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2017YFD0301601), the China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (2016M600512), the Open Project Program of State Key Laboratory of Rice Biology, Ministry of Science and Technology, China (20190401), and the Jiangxi Province Postdoctoral Research Project Preferential Grant, China (2017KY16).
Corresponding Authors:  Correspondence ZENG Yan-hua, Tel: +86-791-83850663, E-mail: zyh74049501   
About author:  HUANG Wan, E-mail:;

Cite this article: 

HUANG Wan, WU Jian-fu, PAN Xiao-hua, TAN Xue-ming, ZENG Yong-jun, SHI Qing-hua, LIU Tao-ju, ZENG Yan-hua. 2021. Effects of long-term straw return on soil organic carbon fractions and enzyme activities in a double-cropped rice paddy in South China. Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 20(1): 236-247.

Anderson T H, Gray T R G. 1990. Soil microbial carbon uptake characteristics in relation to soil management. FEMS Microbiology Letters, 74, 11–19.
Badiane N N Y, Chotte J L, Pate E, Masse D, Rouland C. 2001. Use of soil enzyme activities to monitor soil quality in natural and improved fallows in semi-arid tropical regions. Applied Soil Ecology, 18, 229–238.
Bai J, Ouyang H, Deng W, Zhu Y, Zhang X, Wang Q. 2005. Spatial distribution characteristics of organic matter and total nitrogen of marsh soils in river marginal wetlands. Geoderma, 124, 181–192.
Bartuška M, Pawlett M, Frouz J. 2015. Particulate organic carbon at reclaimed and unreclaimed post-mining soils and its microbial community composition. Catena, 131, 92–98.
Benbi D K, Brar K, Toor A S, Sharma S. 2015. Sensitivity of labile soil organic carbon pools to long-term fertilizer, straw and manure management in rice-wheat system. Pedosphere, 25, 534–545.
Biederbeck V, Janzen H, Campbell C, Zentner R. 1994. Labile soil organic matter as influenced by cropping practices in an arid environment. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 26, 1647–1656.
Blair G J, Lefroy R D B, Lisle L. 1995. Soil carbon fractions based on their degree of oxidation, and the development of a carbon management index for agricultural systems. Australian Journal of Agricultural Research, 46, 1459–1466.
Blanco-Canqui H, Lal R. 2009. Crop residue removal impacts on soil productivity and environmental quality. Critical Reviews in Plant Science, 28, 139–163.
Cambardella C, Elliott E. 1992. Particulate soil organic-matter changes across a grassland cultivation sequence. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 56, 777–783.
Carter M, Mele P. 1992. Changes in microbial biomass and structural stability at the surface of a duplex soil under direct drilling and stubble retention in north-eastern Victoria. Soil Research, 30, 493–503.
Ceccanti B, Pezzarossa B, Gallardo-Lancho F, Masciandaro G. 1993. Biotests as markers of soil utilization and fertility. Geomicrobiology Journal, 11, 309–316.
Chan K, Heenan D, Oates A. 2002. Soil carbon fractions and relationship to soil quality under different tillage and stubble management. Soil & Tillage Research, 63, 133–139.
Chen H, Zhou J, Xiao B. 2010. Characterization of dissolved organic matter derived from rice straw at different stages of decay. Journal of Soils and Sediments, 10, 915–922.
Chen Y, Xin L, Liu J, Yuan M, Liu S, Jiang W, Chen J. 2017. Changes in bacterial community of soil induced by long-term straw returning. Scientia Agricola, 74, 349–356.
Davidson E A, Trumbore S E, Amundson R. 2000. Soil warming and organic carbon content. Nature, 408, 789–790.
Dick R P, Rasmussen P E, Kerle E A. 1988. Influence of long-term residue management on soil enzyme activities in relation to soil chemical properties of a wheat-fallow system. Biology and Fertility of Soils, 6, 159–164.
Ge G , Li Z , Fan F, Chu G, Hou Z, Liang Y. 2010. Soil biological activity and their seasonal variations in response to long-term application of organic and inorganic fertilizers. Plant and Soil, 326, 31.
Gianfreda L, Rao M A, Piotrowska A, Palumbo G, Colombo C. 2005. Soil enzyme activities as affected by anthropogenic alterations: Intensive agricultural practices and organic pollution. Science of the Total Environment, 341, 265–279.
Gong W, Yan X, Wang J, Hu T, Gong Y. 2009. Long-term manure and fertilizer effects on soil organic matter fractions and microbes under a wheat-maize cropping system in northern China. Geoderma, 149, 318–324.
Gregorich E G, Janzen H H. 1996. Storage of soil carbon in the light fraction and macro-organic matter. In: Carter M R, Stewart B A, eds., Structure and Organic Matter Storage in Agricultural Soils. CRC Press, Boca Raton. pp. 167–190.
Haynes R. 2000. Labile organic matter as an indicator of organic matter quality in arable and pastoral soils in New Zealand. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 32, 211–219.
Hoyle F, Murphy D, Fillery I. 2006. Temperature and stubble management influence microbial CO2-C evolution and gross N transformation rates. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 38, 71–80.
Hua K, Zhu B. 2018. Leaching is the dominant route for soil organic carbon lateral transport under crop straw addition on sloping croplands. Plant, Soil and Environment, 64, 344–351.
Huang S, Zeng Y, Wu J, Shi Q, Pan X. 2013. Effect of crop residue retention on rice yield in China: A meta-analysis. Field Crops Research, 154, 188–194.
Jiang P, Xu Q, Xu Z, Cao Z. 2006. Seasonal changes in soil labile organic carbon pools within a Phyllostachys praecox stand under high rate fertilization and winter mulch in subtropical China. Forest Ecology and Management, 236, 30–36.
Jiao X, Gao C, Lü G, Sui Y. 2011. Effect of long-term fertilization on soil enzyme activities under different hydrothermal conditions in Northeast China. Agricultural Sciences in China, 10, 412–422.
Kalbitz K, Solinger S, Park J H, Michalzik B, Matzner E. 2000. Controls on the dynamics of dissolved organic matter in soils: A review. Soil Science, 165, 277–304.
Kirschbaum M U. 1995. The temperature dependence of soil organic matter decomposition, and the effect of global warming on soil organic C storage. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 27, 753–760.
Kuwatsuka S, Shindo H. 1973. Behavior of phenolic substances in the decaying process of plants: I. Identification and quantitative determination of phenolic acids in rice straw and its decayed product by gas chromatography. Soil Science and Plant Nutrition, 19, 219–227.
Lehtinen T, Schlatter N, Baumgarten A, Bechini L, Krüger J, Grignani C, Zavattaro L, Costamagna C, Spiegel H. 2014. Effect of crop residue incorporation on soil organic carbon and greenhouse gas emissions in European agricultural soils. Soil Use and Management, 30, 524–538.
Li H, Cao Y, Wang X, Ge X, Li B, Jin C. 2017. Evaluation on the production of food crop straw in China from 2006 to 2014. BioEnergy Research, 10, 949–957.
Li S, Zhang S, Pu Y, Li T, Xu X, Jia Y, Deng O, Gong G. 2016. Dynamics of soil labile organic carbon fractions and C-cycle enzyme activities under straw mulch in Chengdu Plain. Soil & Tillage Research, 155, 289–297.
Liao P, Huang S, van Gestel N C, Zeng Y, Wu Z, van Groenigen K J. 2018. Liming and straw retention interact to increase nitrogen uptake and grain yield in a double rice-cropping system. Field Crops Research, 216, 217–224.
Liu C, Lu M, Cui J, Li B, Fang C. 2014. Effects of straw carbon input on carbon dynamics in agricultural soils: A meta-analysis. Global Change Biology, 20, 1366–1381.
Liu E, Yan C, Mei X, He W, Bing S H, Ding L, Liu Q, Liu S, Fan T. 2010. Long-term effect of chemical fertilizer, straw, and manure on soil chemical and biological properties in northwest China. Geoderma, 158, 173–180.
Liu E, Yan C, Mei X, Zhang Y, Fan T. 2013. Long-term effect of manure and fertilizer on soil organic carbon pools in dryland farming in northwest China. PLoS ONE, 8, e56536.
Liu X, Qi L, Liang W, Jiang Y. 2008. Distribution of soil enzyme activities and microbial biomass along a latitudinal gradient in farmlands of Songliao Plain, Northeast China. Pedosphere, 18, 431–440.
Lu R. 1999. Analysis Methods of Soil Science and Agricultural Chemistry. China Agricultural Science and Technology Press, Beijing. (in Chinese)
Malhi S, Nyborg M, Goddard T, Puurveen D. 2011. Long-term tillage, straw management and N fertilization effects on quantity and quality of organic C and N in a Black Chernozem soil. Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems, 90, 227–241.
Manelius Å, Dahlberg L, Holst O. 1994. Some properties of a thermostable β-xylosidase from Rhodothermus marinus. Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology, 44, 39–48.
Manzoni S, Jackson R B, Trofymow J A, Porporato A. 2008. The global stoichiometry of litter nitrogen mineralization. Science, 321, 684–686.
Manzoni S, Trofymow J A, Jackson R B, Porporato A. 2010. Stoichiometric controls on carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus dynamics in decomposing litter. Ecological Monograph, 80, 89–106.
Mooshammer M, Wanek W, Hämmerle I, Fuchslueger L, Hofhansl F, Knoltsch A, Schnecker J, Takriti M, Watzka M, Wild B, Zechmeister-Boltenstern S, Richter A, Keiblinger K M. 2014. Adjustment of microbial nitrogen use efficiency to carbon: Nitrogen imbalances regulates soil nitrogen cycling. Nature Communications, 5, 3694.
Muqaddas B, Zhou X, Lewis T, Wild C, Chen C. 2015. Long-term frequent prescribed fire decreases surface soil carbon and nitrogen pools in a wet sclerophyll forest of Southeast Queensland, Australia. Science of the Total Environment, 536, 39–47.
Murata T, Goh K. 1997. Effects of cropping systems on soil organic matter in a pair of conventional and biodynamic mixed cropping farms in Canterbury, New Zealand. Biology and Fertility of Soils, 25, 372–381.
Nakajima M, Cheng W, Tang S, Hori Y, Yaginuma E, Hattori S, Hanayama S, Tawaraya K, Xu X. 2016. Modeling aerobic decomposition of rice straw during the off-rice season in an Andisol paddy soil in a cold temperate region of Japan: effects of soil temperature and moisture. Soil Science and Plant Nutrition, 62, 90–98.
Nayak A, Gangwar B, Shukla A K, Mazumdar S P, Kumar A, Raja R, Kumar A, Kumar V, Rai P, Mohan U. 2012. Long-term effect of different integrated nutrient management on soil organic carbon and its fractions and sustainability of rice-wheat system in Indo Gangetic Plains of India. Field Crops Research, 127, 129–139.
Neff J C, Asner G P. 2001. Dissolved organic carbon in terrestrial ecosystems: synthesis and a model. Ecosystems, 4, 29–48.
Pal D, Broadbent F. 1975. Influence of moisture on rice straw decomposition in soils. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 39, 59–63
Pancholy S K, Rice E L. 1973. Soil enzymes in relation to old field succession: Amylase, cellulase, invertase, dehydrogenase, and urease. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 37, 47–50.
Pittelkow C M, Liang X, Linquist B A, van Groenigen K J, Lee J, Lundy M E, van Gestel N, Six J, Venterea R T, van Kessel C. 2015. Productivity limits and potentials of the principles of conservation agriculture. Nature, 517, 365–368.
Plaza-Bonilla D, Alvaro-Fuentes J, Cantero-Martinez C. 2014. Identifying soil carbon fractions sensitive to agricultural management practices. Soil & Tillage Research, 139, 19–22.
Powlson D, Jenkinson D. 1981. A comparison of the organic matter, biomass, adenosine triphosphate and mineralizable nitrogen contents of ploughed and direct-drilled soils. Journal of Agricultural Science, 97, 713–721.
Powlson D, Prookes P, Christensen B T. 1987. Measurement of soil microbial biomass provides an early indication of changes in total soil organic matter due to straw incorporation. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 19, 159–164.
Rao D N, Mikkelsen D S. 1977. Effect of acetic, propionic, and butyric acids on young rice seedlings’ growth. Agronomy Journal, 69, 923–928.
Rietl A J, Jackson C R. 2012. Effects of the ecological restoration practices of prescribed burning and mechanical thinning on soil microbial enzyme activities and leaf litter decomposition. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 50, 47–57.
Salazar S, Sánchez L, Alvarez J, Valverde A, Galindo P, Igual J, Peix A, Santa-Regina I. 2011. Correlation among soil enzyme activities under different forest system management practices. Ecological Engineering, 37, 1123–1131.
Schimel J P, Gulledge J M, Clein-Curley J S, Lindstrom J E, Braddock J F. 1999. Moisture effects on microbial activity and community structure in decomposing birch litter in the Alaskan taiga. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 31, 831–838.
Stott D, Andrews S, Liebig M, Wienhold B J, Karlen D. 2010. Evaluation of β-glucosidase activity as a soil quality indicator for the soil management assessment framework. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 74, 107–119.
Tanaka A, Navasero S. 1967. Carbon dioxide and organic acids in relation to the growth of rice. Soil Science and Plant Nutrition, 13, 25–30.
Tang S, Cheng W, Hu R, Guigue J, Kimani S, Tawaraya K, Xu X. 2016. Simulating the effects of soil temperature and moisture in the off-rice season on rice straw decomposition and subsequent CH4 production during the growth season in a paddy soil. Biology and Fertility of Soils, 52, 739–748.
Tian J, Pausch J, Fan M, Li X, Tang Q, Kuzyakov Y. 2013. Allocation and dynamics of assimilated carbon in rice-soil system depending on water management. Plant and Soil, 363, 273–285.
Vepsäläinen M, Erkomaa K, Kukkonen S, Vestberg M, Wallenius K, Niemi R M. 2004. The impact of crop plant cultivation and peat amendment on soil microbial activity and structure. Plant and Soil, 264, 273–286.
Waldrop M, Zak D, Sinsabaugh R. 2004. Microbial community response to nitrogen deposition in northern forest ecosystems. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 36, 1443–1451.
Wander M. 2004. Soil organic matter fractions and their relevance to soil function. In: Magdoff F R, Weil R R, eds., Soil Organic Matter in Sustainable Agriculture. CRC Press, Boca Raton. pp. 67–102.
Wang J, Wang X, Xu M, Feng G, Zhang W. 2015. Crop yield and soil organic matter after long-term straw return to soil in China. Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems, 102, 371–381.
Wang W, Lai D, Wang C, Pan T, Zeng C. 2015. Effects of rice straw incorporation on active soil organic carbon pools in a subtropical paddy field. Soil & Tillage Research, 152, 8–16.
Xie W, Yuan S, Xu M, Yang X, Shen Q, Zhang W, Su J, Zhao F. 2018. Long-term effects of manure and chemical fertilizers on soil antibiotic resistome. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 122, 111–119.
Xu M, Lou Y, Sun X, Wang W, Baniyamuddin M, Zhao K. 2011. Soil organic carbon active fractions as early indicators for total carbon change under straw incorporation. Biology and Fertility of Soils, 47, 745.
Xue J, Pu C, Liu S, Chen Z, Chen F, Xiao X, Lal R, Zhang H. 2015. Effects of tillage systems on soil organic carbon and total nitrogen in a double paddy cropping system in Southern China. Soil & Tillage Research, 153, 161–168.
Yadvinder S, Bijay S, Timsina J. 2005. Crop residue management for nutrient cycling and improving soil productivity in rice-based cropping systems in the tropics. Advances in Agronomy, 85, 269–407.
Yan D, Wang D, Yang L. 2007. Long-term effect of chemical fertilizer, straw, and manure on labile organic matter fractions in a paddy soil. Biology & Fertility of Soils, 44, 93–101.
Yan X, Zhou H, Zhu Q H, Wang X F, Zhang Y Z, Yu X C, Peng X. 2013. Carbon sequestration efficiency in paddy soil and upland soil under long-term fertilization in southern China. Soil & Tillage Research, 130, 42–51.
Zhang M, Cheng G, Feng H, Sun B, Zhao Y, Chen H, Chen J, Dyck M, Wang X, Zhang J. 2017. Effects of straw and biochar amendments on aggregate stability, soil organic carbon, and enzyme activities in the Loess Plateau, China. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 24, 10108–10120.
Zhang Y, Zang G Q, Tang Z H, Chen X H, Yu Y S. 2014. Burning straw, air pollution, and respiratory infections in China. American Journal of Infection Control, 42, 815.
Zhao S, Li K, Wei Z, Qiu S, Huang S, He P. 2016. Changes in soil microbial community, enzyme activities and organic matter fractions under long-term straw return in north-central China. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 216, 82–88.
Zhu L, Hu N, Zhang Z, Xu J, Tao B, Meng Y. 2015. Short-term responses of soil organic carbon and carbon pool management index to different annual straw return rates in a rice-wheat cropping system. Catena, 135, 283–289.
[1] CHEN Jin, PANG Dang-wei, JIN Min, LUO Yong-li, LI Hao-yu, LI Yong, WANG Zhen-lin.
Improved soil characteristics in the deeper plough layer can increase grain yield of winter wheat
[J]. >Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 2020, 19(5): 1215-1226.
[2] WANG Shi-chao, ZHAO Ya-wen, WANG Jin-zhou, ZHU Ping, CUI Xian, HAN Xiao-zeng, XU Ming-gang, LU Chang-ai . The efficiency of long-term straw return to sequester organic carbon in Northeast China's cropland[J]. >Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 2018, 17(2): 436-448.
No Suggested Reading articles found!