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Interactions of Soil Order and Land Use Management on Soil Properties in the Kukart Watershed, Kyrgyzstan

DOI: 10.1155/2012/130941

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Surveys of soil properties related to soil functioning for many regions of Kyrgyzstan are limited. This study established ranges of chemical (soil organic matter (SOM), pH and total N (TN)), physical (soil texture), and biochemical (six enzyme activities of C, N, P, and S cycling) characteristics for nine profiles from the Kukart watershed of Jalal-Abad region in Kyrgyzstan. These profiles represent different soil orders (Inceptisols, Alfisols, and Mollisols) and land uses (cultivated, nut-fruit forests, and pasture). The Sierozem (Inceptisols) soils had the highest pH and contained the lowest SOM and TN contents compared to the Brown, Black-brown, and Meadow-steppe soils (Alfisols and Mollisols). Enzymatic activities within surface horizons (0–18?cm) typically decreased in the following order: forest > pasture > cultivated. Enzyme activity trends due to land use were present regardless of elevation, climate, and soil types although subtle differences among soil types within land use were observed. The significant reductions in measured soil enzyme activities involved in C, N, P, and S nutrient transformations under cultivation compared to pasture and forest ecosystems and lower values under Inceptisols can serve as soil quality indicators for land use decisions in the watershed. 1. Introduction Expected changes in global climate, land uses, population distribution, and water availability create challenges to meet societal needs for ecosystem services that agricultural, forestry, and pasture lands provide. In order to make sound decisions regarding land use, knowledge of specific properties related to soil functioning under different land use scenarios are necessary. Dynamic properties such as enzyme activities and soil organic matter (SOM) are sensitive to land management practices and can provide valuable information about important soil processes such as nutrient cycling, decomposition and formation of SOM, and overall productivity potential. Enzymatic potential in soils is influenced by inherent soil properties such as soil texture, type of clay, and drainage class that were established as soil formed as well as dynamic properties such as SOM, pH, and nutrient holding capacity. Among the various enzymes present in soil, assessment of the activities of hydrolases involved in C, N, P, and S cycling can provide information about soil fertility [1, 2] as well as the metabolic potential of soil [3, 4]. Previous studies with soils from various regions have shown that enzyme activities are sensitive to soil changes due to tillage [5, 6], cropping systems


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