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ARS Home » Midwest Area » West Lafayette, Indiana » National Soil Erosion Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #345467

Research Project: Production System and Climate Change Effects on Soil/Air/Water Quality for the Eastern Corn Belt

Location: National Soil Erosion Research

Title: Reducing soil loss using surface application of stem juices

Author
item WEI, XIA - Lanzhou University
item Huang, Chi Hua
item WEI, NING - Northwest Agricultural & Forestry University
item ZHAO, HENGCE - Lanzhou University
item WANG, TAO - Lanzhou University

Submitted to: Land Degradation and Development
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/11/2018
Publication Date: 7/1/2018
Citation: Wei, X., Huang, C., Wei, N., Zhao, H., Wang, T. 2018. Reducing soil loss using surface application of stem juices. Land Degradation and Development. 29:1705-1713. doi: 10.1002/ldr.2969.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/ldr.2969

Interpretive Summary: In processing biomass for fuel conversion or fiber extraction, the plant juice resulted from the extraction process is a natural byproduct. Since an excessive removal of biomass is known as the primary cause of soil degradation, returning a portion of the plant juice back to the soil may provide the necessary soil conservation benefits. This research was designed to assess the effect of corn stem juice (CSJ) and grape stem juice (GSJ) on selected soil properties, runoff and soil loss. Both CSJ and GSJ were applied onto soil boxes at 25% and 50% strength and subjected to a 60-minute 50 mm/h rainstorm. All juice treatments increased soil aggregate stability, soil organic carbon, total nitrogen, and reduced runoff and soil loss. The treatments from corn juice were more effective than those from the grape juice. For example, CSJ reduced soil erosion by 82 to 95% when compared to the control treatment while the reductions were 27 to 36% for the GSJ treatment. The stronger effect of CSJ might have been caused by higher nutrient contents than those from GSJ. We also found that effect of CSJ decreased over time, which pointed to the need to either reapply CSJ after a period of time or only apply during the period with critical needs for efficient soil and water conservation. The research demonstrates that the plant juice, a natural byproduct of biomass processing, has the potential to improve soil quality, reduce erosion and offset the potential harmful effects from biomass removal.

Technical Abstract: Controlling soil erosion is essential in maintaining and sustaining soil and water resources. The use of soil amendments is considered as an appropriate and new strategy for erosion control. Although some industrial by-products, such as flue-gas desulfurization (FGD) gypsum from fossil fuel fired power plants, have been found to be effective in improving infiltration and reducing erosion, very few studies quantified the effectiveness of plant stem juice, a natural by-product from fiber extraction, as a soil amendment. The purpose of this study was to assess the effect of corn stem juice (CSJ) and grape stem juice (GSJ) on selected soil properties, runoff and soil loss. Both CSJ and GSJ were uniformly applied onto 0.96 m2 air-dried soil surface with 2 l of stem juice solution at 25% and 50% strength, respectively. All stem juice treatments increased soil aggregate stability, soil organic carbon (SOC), total nitrogen (TN) and reduced runoff and soil loss. The treatments from corn juice were more effective than those from the grape juice. For example, CSJ treatments increased soil aggregate mean weight diameter (MWD) by 170%, and reduced soil erosion by 82 to 95% during a 60-minute 50 mmh-1 rain, when compared to the control treatment. On the other hand, the GSJ increased MWD by 109 to 131%, and reduced soil erosion by 27 to 36%. The stronger effect of CSJ might have been caused by higher nutrient contents than those from GSJ. The results also showed the effect of CSJ decreased over time, which pointed to the need of reapplying CSJ after a period of time or only applying during the period with critical needs for efficient soil and water conservation. The findings can therefore be used to avoid soil degradation under conditions similar to those adopted herein.