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Total and fresh organic carbon distribution in aggregate size classes and single aggregate regions using natural 13C/12C tracer

Emilia Urbanek Orcid Logo, Alvin J.M. Smucker, Rainer Horn

Geoderma, Volume: 164, Issue: 3-4, Pages: 164 - 171

Swansea University Author: Emilia Urbanek Orcid Logo

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Abstract

Soil structure is known to stabilise organic carbon (Corg), and act as physical barrier between thedecomposing microorganisms and the substrates. It is, however, not fully understood how Corg and especially fresh material from plants is distributed within the soil structure. The aim of the study is...

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Published in: Geoderma
ISSN: 00167061
Published: 2011
Online Access: Check full text

URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa13506
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Abstract: Soil structure is known to stabilise organic carbon (Corg), and act as physical barrier between thedecomposing microorganisms and the substrates. It is, however, not fully understood how Corg and especially fresh material from plants is distributed within the soil structure. The aim of the study is to investigate the long- and short-term accumulation of Corg in soil macro-aggregates according to main soil structure formation models: hierarchical and gradient development around plant debris. Two typesof differently vegetated and tilled silty loam soil were selected for the examination of Corg and δ13C signals within 4 aggregate size classes (<2, 2–5, 5–8, and 8–12 mm across) and 3 different concentric regions(exterior, transitional and interior) of single macro-aggregates. The total and fresh Corg distribution was identified in soil i) 24 years following the crop conversion from C3 to C4 and ii) 6 weeks greenhouse plant growth after conversion from C3 to C4 and vice-versa.The results showthat maize soil 24 years after C3 to C4 plant conversion has (9–27%) higher Corg content and theleast negative δ13C signal in the aggregate size class b2 mmin the topsoil, and 30–40% higher Corg content in thesubsoil and is the only size fraction enriched in the fresh Corg while larger aggregates contain old carboncharacteristic for the C3 vegetation. Although without statistical significance, a consistent pattern of higher Corgcontent and less negative δ13C values in the aggregate exteriors vs. the interior are found in the original soil.The aggregates from the greenhouse experiment 6 weeks after crop conversion are enriched by 6–15% in thefresh organic carbon from the recently grown plant. The fresh Corg, however, is rather randomly distributedwithin the aggregates showing no particular enhancement in any of the aggregate regions
Keywords: soil carbon, soil aggregates
College: Faculty of Science and Engineering
Issue: 3-4
Start Page: 164
End Page: 171