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Soil Quality in Relation to Agricultural Production in the North China Plain

Xia, M., Zhao, B., Hao, X., Zhang, J. (2015). Soil Quality in Relation to Agricultural Production in the North China Plain, 25(4), 592-604.


© 2015 Soil Science Society of China. Sustainable agricultural production is of vital importance to food supply security. This study aimed to investigate crop yield response to spatial variability of soil quality at a county scale in the North China Plain (NCP) and subsequently derive key soil quality indicators. Soil samples were geo-referenced and taken in 2008 from both surface (0-20 cm) and subsurface (20-40 cm) layers in 132 fields throughout the Fengqiu County, located in the centre of the NCP, for subsequent soil properties' analyses. Annual crop yields were obtained from the same fields where soil samples were collected. Soil quality was evaluated based on a fuzzy set with 13 soil properties, and its spatial distributions were investigated by integrating geostatistical analysis and geographic information system (GIS) techniques. Soil quality indices were classified into five grades, and their spatial distributions were mapped within the county. The surface soil qualities were about one to two grades higher than the subsurface soil. The quality indices for surface and subsurface soils were positively associated with the annual crop yields, suggesting the importance of both. Soil organic matter, total nitrogen, available P, and available K contributed 50% of the combined weight to the soil quality index and were identified as key indicators of soil quality status in the area in terms of sustainability.

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