Soil Properties and Plant Growth Response to Litter in a Prolonged Enclosed Grassland of Loess Plateau, China

Yunwu Xiong*, Bing Yu, Mengting Bai, Xueyang Zhang, Guanhua Huang, Alex Furman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The enclosure and ungrazing practices for grassland management result in accumulation of plant litter on soil surface thus affecting the available soil water and nutrients for plant production. We experimentally investigated the effects of litter on soil properties and plant growth in a prolonged enclosure grassland of Loess Plateau, China. Three different litter manipulations were conducted including removal of all litter, an untreated in-situ control with original litter levels, and a double litter treatment. Litter treatment experiments demonstrated that plant litter affected the superficial soil water. Soil water content in plots with in-situ or double litter is generally higher than that with litter removal. The depletion of soil water up to five days post rainfall is fastest in litter removal plots for the top soil, but no evident difference for the deep ones. Different litter treatments have no significant impact on soil total carbon, nitrogen as well as carbon/nitrogen ratio for consecutive two years experiments. Both above- and below-ground biomasses in plots of litter removal were less than those in the plots of in-situ and double litter treatment. Litter affects plant production mainly through the mechanical barrier regulating root zone soil moisture. Therefore, prolonged litter manipulation experiments are desirable to understand the long-term response of plant growth on litter from nutrient aspect.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1041-1048
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Earth Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Stripa bungeana
  • litter manipulation
  • soil moisture
  • ungrazed grassland


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