The short-term effects of liming on organic carbon mineralisation in two acidic soils as affected by different rates and application depths of lime Academic Article uri icon


  • Two acidic soils (initial pH, 4.6) with contrasting soil organic C (SOC) contents (11.5 and 40 g C kg⁻¹) were incubated with ¹³C-labelled lime (Ca¹³CO₃) at four different rates (nil, target pH 5, 5.8 and 6.5) and three application depths (0–10, 20–30 and 0–30 cm). We hypothesised that liming would stimulate SOC mineralisation by removing pH constraints on soil microbes and that the increase in mineralisation in limed soil would be greatest in the high-C soil and lowest when the lime was applied in the subsoil. While greater SOC mineralisation was observed during the first 3 days, likely due to lime-induced increases in SOC solubility, this effect was transient. In contrast, SOC mineralisation was lower in limed than in non-limed soils over the 87-day study, although only significant in the Tenosol (70 μg C g⁻¹ soil, 9.15%). We propose that the decrease in SOC mineralisation following liming in the low-C soil was due to increased microbial C-use efficiency, as soil microbial communities used less energy maintaining intracellular pH or community composition changed. A greater reduction in SOC mineralisation in the Tenosol for low rates of lime (0.3 and 0.5 g column⁻¹) or when the high lime rate (0.8 g column⁻¹) was mixed through the entire soil column without changes in microbial biomass C (MBC) could indicate a more pronounced stabilising effect of Ca²⁺ in the Tenosol than the Chromosol with higher clay content and pH buffer capacity. Our study suggests that liming to ameliorate soil acidity constraints on crop productivity may also help to reduce soil C mineralisation in some soils.


publication date

  • 2017