The Effect of Molasses Application on Soil Biological Indicators and Maize Growth of Different Tillage Soil A Pot Experiment

Main Article Content

Priyo Adi Nugroho
Nándor Prettl
Zsolt Kotroczó
Katalin Juhos


Soil enzyme activity and labile carbon (LC) have long been used as soil health indicators. Soil health can be improved by molasses addition resulting in better plant growth and productivity. The effect of molasses on soil biological activity and plant growth under different tillage soil has not been discussed in many studies in Hungary. We assessed two soil types under different long-term tillage practices: conservation tillage (CT), which leaves 30% or more residue on the soil surface, and conventional-ploughing tillage (PT). A pot experiment with maize as the crop was carried out using the composite soil (0-20 cm) of CT and PT; a randomized block design with four replications was employed. Three levels of molasses concentration, 0 g L-1, 0.05 g L-1, and 0.2 g L-1 were applied. LC, dehydrogenase (DHA), β-glucosidase activity, plant height, and dry weight biomass were measured at the end of the experiment (after eight weeks). The results indicated that LC in CT increased by 7.61-21.23% over the increase in molasses concentration. LC concentration was significantly higher in the CT than in the PT soil. β-glucosidase activity increased along with the increase of molasses concentration by 11.42-30.43% in CT and 16.03-56.67% in PT; however, the significantly different appeared only in PT soil. The molasses application affected the DHA as well. The activity of dehydrogenase increases by 39.49-80.76% and 30.43-50.59%, respectively, in CT and PT. Nevertheless, no significance occurred in the tillage system or the molasses concentration. Our study also found that the different molasses concentrations did not affect the plant height and dry weight biomass in CT and PT. However, applying each molasses concentration in CT markedly escalated the plant height and dry weight biomass compared to PT. The enhancement of soil biological activity and plant growth by the molasses application allows a promising strategy for maintaining the soil health of agricultural land.


Download data is not yet available.

Article Details

How to Cite
Nugroho, Priyo Adi, Nándor Prettl, Zsolt Kotroczó, and Katalin Juhos. 2023. “The Effect of Molasses Application on Soil Biological Indicators and Maize Growth of Different Tillage Soil: A Pot Experiment”. Journal of Environmental Geography 16 (1-4):119-24.
Author Biographies

Priyo Adi Nugroho, Magyar Agrár- és Élettudományi Egyetem

Department of Agro-Environmental Studies, Institute of Environmental Science

Nándor Prettl, Magyar Agrár- és Élettudományi Egyetem

Department of Agro-Environmental Studies, Institute of Environmental Science

Zsolt Kotroczó, Magyar Agrár- és Élettudományi Egyetem

Department of Agro-Environmental Studies, Institute of Environmental Science

Katalin Juhos, Magyar Agrár- és Élettudományi Egyetem

Department of Agro-Environmental Studies, Institute of Environmental Science


Ali, M.M., Al-Ani, A., Eamus, D., Tan, D.K.Y. 2017. Leaf nitrogen determination using non-destructive techniques–a review. Journal of Plant Nutrition 40(7), 928–953. DOI:

Bartkowiak, A., Lemanowicz, J., Rydlewska, M., Drabińska, O., Ewert, K. 2022. Enzymatic activity of soil after applications distillery stillage. Agriculture (Switzerland) 12(5), 652. DOI:

Bogunović, I., Kovács, P.G., Ðekemati, I., Kisić, I., Balla, I., Birkás, M. 2019. Long-term effect of soil conservation tillage on soil water content, penetration resistance, crumb ratio and crusted area. Plant, Soil and Environment 65(9), 442–448. DOI:

Dekemati, I., Simon, B., Vinogradov, S., Birkás, M. 2019. The effects of various tillage treatments on soil physical properties, earthworm abundance and crop yield in Hungary. Soil and Tillage Research 194(March), 104334. DOI:

Expósito, A., García, S., Giné, A., Escudero, N., Herranz, S., Pocurull, M., Lacunza, A., Sorribas, F.J. 2022. Effect of molasses application alone or combined with Trichoderma asperellum T-34 on Meloidogyne spp. management and soil microbial activity in organic production systems. Agronomy 12(7), 1508. DOI:

Fekete, I., Bíró, B., Béni, Á., Várbíró, G., Juhos, K., Makádi, M., Kotroczó, Z. 2022. Variability in litter inputs affecting soil fungi and bacteria through moisture and carbon content in forest soil. Soil Science Annual 73(4), 1–11. DOI:

Ferraz De Almeida, R., Naves, E.R., Pinheiro, R., Mota, D. 2015. Soil quality: enzymatic activity of soil β-glucosidase. Global Journal of Agricultural Research and Reviews 3(2), 2437–1858.

García-Gil, J.C., Plaza, C., Soler-Rovira, P., Polo, A. 2000. Long-term effects of municipal solid waste compost application on soil enzyme activities and microbial biomass. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 32(13), 1907–1913. DOI:

Geisseler, D., Horwath, W.R., Scow, K.M. 2011. Soil moisture and plant residue addition interact in their effect on extracellular enzyme activity. Pedobiologia 54(2), 71–78. DOI:

Hallam, J., Hodson, M.E. 2020. Impact of different earthworm ecotypes on water stable aggregates and soil water holding capacity. Biology and Fertility of Soils 56(5), 607–617. DOI:

Hernández, D.L., Hobbie, S.E. 2010. The effects of substrate composition, quantity, and diversity on microbial activity. Plant and Soil 335(1), 397–411. DOI:

IBM Corp. 2019. IBM SPSS Statistics for Windows version 27.0, Armonk, NY.

Jakab, G., Madarász, B., Szabó, J.A., Tóth, A., Zacháry, D., Szalai, Z., Kertész, Á., Dyson, J. 2017. Infiltration and soil loss changes during the growing season under ploughing and conservation tillage. Sustainability (Switzerland) 9(10), 1726. DOI:

Koishi, A., Bragazza, L., Maltas, A., Guillaume, T., Sinaj, S. 2020. Long-term effects of organic amendments on soil organic matter quantity and quality in conventional cropping systems in Switzerland. Agronomy 10(12), 1977. DOI:

Kotroczó, Z., Veres, Z., Fekete, I., Papp, M., Tóth, J.A. 2012. Effects of climate change on litter production in a Quercetum petraeae-cerris forest in Hungary. Acta Silvatica et Lignaria Hungarica 8(1), 31–38. DOI:

Li, J., Wang, Y. ke, Guo, Z., Li, J bin, Tian, C., Hua, D. wen, Shi, C. di, Wang, H. yuan, Han, J. chang, Xu, Y. 2020. Effects of conservation tillage on soil physicochemical properties and crop yield in an arid loess plateau, China. Scientific Reports 10(1), 1–15. DOI:

Li, S., Zhao, X., Ye, X., Zhang, L., Shi, L., Xu, F., Ding, G. 2020. The effects of condensed molasses soluble on the growth and development of rapeseed through seed germination, hydroponics and field trials. Agriculture (Switzerland) 10(7), 1–20. DOI:

Madarász, B., Jakab, G., Szalai, Z., Juhos, K., Kotroczó, Z., Tóth, A., Ladányi, M. 2021. Long-term effects of conservation tillage on soil erosion in Central Europe: a random forest-based approach. Soil and Tillage Research 209, 104959. DOI:

Madejón, E., López, R., Murillo, J.M., Cabrera, F. 2001. Agricultural use of three (sugar-beet) vinasse composts: effect on crops and chemical properties of a Cambisol soil in the Guadalquivir river valley (SW Spain). Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 84(1), 55–65. DOI:

Omara, A., Aiad, M., El-Ramady, H., Abo-ELela, E.G., Amer, M. 2022. Significant use of molasses and foliar application of Ca (NO3)2 on improving of some soil properties and yield of rice under salt affected soils. Environment, Biodiversity and Soil Security 6(2022), 285–298. DOI:

Pyakurel, A., Dahal, B.R., Rijal, S. 2019. Effect of molasses and organic fertilizer in soil fertility and yield of spinach in Khotang, Nepal. International Journal of Applied Sciences and Biotechnology 7(1), 49–53. DOI:

Reardon, C.L., Klein, A.M., Melle, C.J., Hagerty, C.H., Klarer, E.R., Machado, S., Paulitz, T., Pritchett, L., Schlatter, D., Smith, S. F., Wuest, S.B. 2022. Enzyme activities distinguish long-term fertilizer effects under different soil storage methods. Applied Soil Ecology 177, 104518. DOI:

Shirani, H., Hajabbasi, M.A., Afyuni, M., Hemmat, A. 2002. Effects of farmyard manure and tillage systems on soil physical properties and corn yield in central Iran. Soil and Tillage Research 68(2), 101–108. DOI:

Sinsabaugh, R.L., Klug, M.j., Collins, H.P., Yeager, P.E., Petersen, S.O. 1999. Characterizing Soil Microbial Communities. In G.P. Robertson, D.C. Coleman, C. Bledsoe, P. Sollins (Eds.), Standard Soil Methods for Long Term Ecological Research (pp. 318–348). Oxford University Press. Online available at

Sokolowski, A.C., Prack McCormick, B., De Grazia, J., Wolski, J.E., Rodríguez, H.A., Rodríguez-Frers, E.P., Gagey, M.C., Debelis, S.P., Paladino, I.R., Barrios, M.B. 2020. Tillage and no-tillage effects on physical and chemical properties of an Argiaquoll soil under long-term crop rotation in Buenos Aires, Argentina. International Soil and Water Conservation Research 8(2), 185–194. DOI: J.ISWCR.2020.02.002

Srivastava, P.C., Singh, R.K., Srivastava, P., Shrivastava, M. 2012. Utilization of molasses-based distillery effluent for fertigation of sugarcane. Biodegradation 23(6), 897–905. DOI:

Stott, D.E., Andrews, S.S., Liebig, M.A., Wienhold, B.J., Karlen, D.L. 2010. Evaluation of β-Glucosidase activity as a soil quality indicator for the soil management assessment framework. Soil Science Society of America Journal 74 (1), 107–119. DOI:

Trevors, J.T. 1984. Dehydrogenase activity in soil: A comparison between the INT and TTC assay. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 16(6), 673–674. DOI:

Veres, Z., Kotroczó, Z., Magyaros, K., Tóth, J.A., Tóthmérész, B. 2013. Dehydrogenase activity in a litter manipulation experiment in temperate forest soil. Acta Silvatica et Lignaria Hungarica 9(1), 25–33. DOI:

Waguespack, E., Bush, E., Fontenot, K. 2022. The effect of organic biostimulants on beneficial soil microorganism activity. Open Journal of Ecology 12(08), 499–512. DOI:

Weil, R.R., Islam, K.R., Stine, M.A., Gruver, J.B., Samson-Liebig, S.E. 2003. Estimating active carbon for soil quality assessment: a simplified method for laboratory and field use. American Journal of Alternative Agriculture 18(1), 3–17. DOI:

Wolińska, A., Bennicelli, R.P. 2010. Dehydrogenase activity response to soil reoxidation process described as varied conditions of water potential, air porosity and oxygen availability. Polish Journal of Environmental Studies 19(3), 651–657.

Wu, Y.wei, Li, Q., Jin, R., Chen, W., Liu, X.lin, Kong, F.lei, Ke, Y.pei, Shi, H., Yuan J.chao 2019. Effect of low-nitrogen stress on photosynthesis and chlorophyll fluorescence characteristics of maize cultivars with different low-nitrogen tolerances. Journal of Integrative Agriculture 18(6), 1246–1256. DOI:

Wydro, U., Jankowska, M., Wołejko, E., Kondzior, P., Łozowicka, B., Kaczyński, P., Rodziewicz, J., Janczukowicz, W., Pietryczuk, A., Cudowski, A., Jabłońska-Trypuć, A. 2022. Changes in soil biological properties after sewage sludge and pesticide application in wheat cultivation. Applied Sciences (Switzerland) 12(22), 11452. DOI:

Yang, T., Lupwayi, N., Marc, S.A., Siddique, K.H.M., Bainard, L.D. 2021. Anthropogenic drivers of soil microbial communities and impacts on soil biological functions in agroecosystems. Global Ecology and Conservation 27, e01521. DOI:

Yi, P.H., Jung, D.H., Selvakumar, G., Lee, S.E., Han, S.G., Lee, I.B. 2020. Analysis of soil nutrient balance and enzymatic activity and growth characteristics of red pepper under protected cultivation using organic liquid fertilizer based on condensed molasses soluble. Horticultural Science and Technology 38(5), 730–741. DOI: HORT.20200066

Zhang, H., Zhou, Z. 2018. Recalcitrant carbon controls the magnitude of soil organic matter mineralization in temperate forests of Northern China. Forest Ecosystems 5(1), 17. DOI:

Zheng, H., Liu, W., Zheng, J., Luo, Y., Li, R., Wang, H., Qi, H. 2018. Effect of long-term tillage on soil aggregates and aggregate-associated carbon in black soil of Northeast China. PLoS ONE 13(6): e0199523. DOI: journal.pone.0199523

Zhou, W., Qin, X., Lyu, D., Qin, S. 2021. Effect of glucose on the soil bacterial diversity and function in the rhizosphere of Cerasus sachalinensis. Horticultural Plant Journal 7(4), 307–317. DOI: