Effects of Soil and Water Conservation Measures on Soil Quality Indicators: The Case of Geshy Subcatchment, Gojeb River Catchment, EthiopiaRead the full article
Applied and Environmental Soil Science publishes research in the field of soil science. Its focus reflects the multidisciplinary nature of soil science, especially the dynamics and spatial heterogeneity of processes in soil.
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Chemical Underpinning of the Tea Bag Index: An Examination of the Decomposition of Tea Leaves
Decomposition is a key flux of terrestrial carbon to the atmosphere. Therefore, gaining a better understanding of how plant litter decomposes in soil, and what governs this process, is vital for global climate models. The Tea Bag Index (TBI) was introduced by Keuskamp et al. (2013) as a novel method for measuring litter decomposition rate and stabilisation. The TBI uses two types of tea bags representing fast (green tea) and slow (rooibos tea) decomposition substrates as standardised litter bags. To date, the TBI method has been used in over 2000 locations across the globe. However, before now, there has been no information on how the composition of the tea leaves change during incubation. These data are crucial in determining the validity of the use of the TBI method globally, to ensure the tea leaves decompose in a way that is representative of so-called “native” litters. To provide chemical underpinning of the TBI method, a laboratory incubation of the tea bags was conducted with destructive sampling at 0, 7, 14, 21, 28, 35, 42, 49, 56, 63, 70, 77, 84, and 91 d. The incubated tea was analysed for total C and N. In addition, C was characterised as alkyl, O-alkyl, aromatic, or carbonyl C using solid-state 13C nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy with cross-polarization and magic angle spinning (CPMAS NMR). The results suggest that changes in carbon in both tea types are comparable to other litter studies, with a net decrease in total C and relative proportion of O-alkyl C fraction, which contains carbohydrates and cellulose. We conclude that the decomposition of tea leaves in the bags used in the TBI is representative of other litters.
Application of Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (Rusle) Model to Assess Soil Erosion in “Kalu Ganga” River Basin in Sri Lanka
Soil erosion is one of the main forms of land degradation. Erosion contributes to loss of agricultural land productivity and ecological and esthetic values of natural environment, and it impairs the production of safe drinking water and hydroenergy production. Thus, assessment of soil erosion and identifying the lands more prone to erosion are vital for erosion management process. Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (Rusle) model supported by a GIS system was used to assess the spatial variability of erosion occurring at Kalu Ganga river basin in Sri Lanka. Digital Elevation Model (30 × 30 m), twenty years’ rainfall data measured at 11 rain gauge stations across the basin, land use and soil maps, and published literature were used as inputs to the model. The average annual soil loss in Kalu Ganga river basin varied from 0 to 134 t ha−1 year−1 and mean annual soil loss was estimated at 0.63 t ha−1 year−1. Based on erosion estimates, the basin landscape was divided into four different erosion severity classes: very low, low, moderate, and high. About 1.68% of the areas (4714 ha) in the river basin were identified with moderate to high erosion severity (>5 t ha−1 year−1) class which urgently need measures to control soil erosion. Lands with moderate to high soil erosion classes were mostly found in Bulathsinghala, Kuruwita, and Rathnapura divisional secretarial divisions. Use of the erosion severity information coupled with basin wide individual RUSLE parameters can help to design the appropriate land use management practices and improved management based on the observations to minimize soil erosion in the basin.
A Comparison of Physical Soil Organic Matter Fractionation Methods for Amended Soils
Selecting a suitable physical fractionation method, to investigate soil organic matter dynamics, from the plethora that are available is a difficult task. Using five different physical fractionation methods, on soils either nontreated or with a history of amendment with a range of exogenous organic matter inputs (Irish moss peat; composted horse manure; garden compost) and a resulting range of carbon contents (6.8 to 22.2%), we show that method selection had a significant impact on both the total C recovered and the distribution of the recovered C between unprotected, physically protected, or chemically protected conceptual pools. These between-method differences most likely resulted from the following: (i) variation in the methodological fractions obtained (i.e., distinguishing between aggregate size classes); (ii) their subsequent designation to conceptual pools (e.g., protected versus unprotected); and (iii) the procedures used in sample pretreatment and subsequent aggregate dispersion and fractionation steps. The performance of each method also varied depending on the amendment in question. The findings emphasise the need for an understanding of the nature of the soil samples under investigation, and the stabilisation mechanism of interest, both prior to method selection and when comparing and interpreting findings from literature studies using different fractionation methods.
The Role of Soil pH in Plant Nutrition and Soil Remediation
In the natural environment, soil pH has an enormous influence on soil biogeochemical processes. Soil pH is, therefore, described as the “master soil variable” that influences myriads of soil biological, chemical, and physical properties and processes that affect plant growth and biomass yield. This paper discusses how soil pH affects processes that are interlinked with the biological, geological, and chemical aspects of the soil environment as well as how these processes, through anthropogenic interventions, induce changes in soil pH. Unlike traditional discussions on the various causes of soil pH, particularly soil acidification, this paper focuses on relationships and effects as far as soil biogeochemistry is concerned. Firstly, the effects of soil pH on substance availability, mobility, and soil biological processes are discussed followed by the biogenic regulation of soil pH. It is concluded that soil pH can broadly be applied in two broad areas, i.e., nutrient cycling and plant nutrition and soil remediation (bioremediation and physicochemical remediation).
Capacity of Histoplasma capsulatum to Survive the Composting Process
Histoplasma capsulatum (H. capsulatum) is a thermal-dimorphic fungus, the causal agent of histoplasmosis. Its presence in the environment is related with chicken manure due to their high nitrogen and phosphorus content. In Colombia, chicken manure is the most used raw material in the composting process; however, there is no information about the capacity of H. capsulatum to survive and remain viable in a composted organic fertilizer. To address this question, this study shows three assays based on microbiological culture and the Hc100 nested PCR. First, a composting reactor system was designed to transform organic material under laboratory conditions, and the raw material was inoculated with the fungus. From these reactors, the fungus was not isolated, but its DNA was detected. In the second assay, samples from factories where the DNA of the fungus was previously detected by PCR were analyzed. In the raw material samples, 3 colonies of H. capsulatum were isolated and its DNA was detected. However, after the composting process, neither the fungus was recovered by culture nor DNA was detected. In the third assay, sterilized and nonsterilized organic composted samples were inoculated with H. capsulatum and then evaluated monthly during a year. In both types of samples, the fungus DNA was detected by Hc100 nested PCR during the whole year, but the fungus only grew from sterile samples during the first two months evaluated. In general, the results of the assays showed that H. capsulatum is not able to survive a well-done composting process.
Spatial Variability of the Physicochemical Properties of Soils from Seasonally Flooded Forest Fragments on a Tropical Plain
Flooded ecosystems are conditioned to seasonal floods that promote specific soil conditions, such as low oxygen, hydromorphism, and peculiar chemical reactions. These environments are dependent on flood pulses that determine specific ecological conditions. Ipucas are seasonally flooded discontinuous forest patches that occur exclusively in the Araguaia Plain in Central Brazil. They are located 0.40 to 1.20 m lower than the surrounding plain, which promotes an accumulation of rainwater for five to six months of the year, being entirely or partially dry during the dry season. The aim of this study was to evaluate the horizontal (centre and edge) and vertical (depths: 0–0.20 m and 0.20–0.40 m) variability of physicochemical parameters in Ipucas soils, attempting to establish the importance of flood pulses and the leaching of surrounding areas in soil formation and composition. Samples were collected during the dry season in three Ipucas of similar size and circularity using a Dutch auger. The results reveal that flood pulses promote the deposition of sediments eroded from the surrounding plain, homogenizing the characteristics of the surface soil, from the edge to the centre of the Ipucas. However, biogeochemical processes, also linked to temporary flooding, account for the differences between the surface and deeper soil horizons because anoxic conditions during flooding promote chemical reactions characteristic of anaerobic environments, modifying the pH and organic matter content, in addition to the gleying of soils subjected to flooding, which are then covered by sediments after the dry season. Finally, Ipucas soils are susceptible to anthropic changes and are dependent on seasonal flood pulses.