Higher nitrates, P and lower pH in soils under medicinal plants versus crop plants

Lianfeng Du, Jiaojiao Zhao, Farhat Abbas, Wenke Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


This report shows a higher soil quality under medicinal plants versus food-crop plants. Long-term continuous cultivation of food crops induces changes of soil properties that can lead to fertility loss and, in turn, decline of food productivity. Effect of cropping on soil changes has been studied mainly for food crops and vegetables worldwide, whereas soil changes in herbal fields are scarcely known. Therefore, we compared here soil nutrients and soil chemical properties of herbal fields, cultivated with Chinese medicinal plants, and food-crop fields. Fields are located at the famous traditional planting base of Chinese medicinal plants in Anguo, China. The results showed that in herbal fields, soil nitrate, available P, soil organic matter (SOM), and electrical conductivity decreased with soil depth, whereas soil pH and soil water content increased with depth. In herbal fields, soil nitrate, available P contents, and soil electrical conductivity were higher than those of food-crop fields at various soil layers. SOM and soil water content were similar in herbal and food-crop fields. Soil pH of herbal fields at 0-20 cm was lower than those of food-crop fields. Findings show overall that soil nutrient accumulation and changes under medicinal plants are higher than food-crop fields.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)385-390
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Chemistry Letters
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Available P
  • Cropland
  • Electric conductivity
  • Nitrate
  • Soil depth
  • Soil pH


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