Effects of cropping systems upon the three-dimensional architecture of soil systems are modulated by texture.

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Bacq-Labreuila, A., Crawford, J. W., Mooney, S. J., Neal, A. L., Akkari, E., McAuliffe, C., Zhang, X., Redmile-Gordon, M. A. and Ritz, K. 2018. Effects of cropping systems upon the three-dimensional architecture of soil systems are modulated by texture. Geoderma. 332, pp. 73-83. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geoderma.2018.07.002

AuthorsBacq-Labreuila, A., Crawford, J. W., Mooney, S. J., Neal, A. L., Akkari, E., McAuliffe, C., Zhang, X., Redmile-Gordon, M. A. and Ritz, K.
Abstract

Soil delivers fundamental ecosystem functions via interactions between physical and biological processes mediated by soil structure. The structure of soil is also dynamic and modified by natural factors and management intervention. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of different cropping systems on soil structure at contrasting spatial scales. Three systems were studied in replicated plot field experiments involving varying degrees of plant-derived inputs to the soil, viz. perennial (grassland), annual (arable), and no-plant control (bare fallow), associated with two contrasting soil textures (clayey and sandy). We hypothesized the presence of plants results in a greater range (diversity) of pore sizes and that perennial cropping systems invoke greater structural heterogeneity. Accordingly, the nature of the pore systems was visualised and quantified in 3D by X-ray Computed Tomography at the mm and μm scale. Plants did not affect the porosity of clay soil at the mm scale, but at the μm scale, annual and perennial plant cover resulted in significantly increased porosity, a wider range of pore sizes and greater connectivity compared to bare fallow soil. However, the opposite occurred in the sandy soil, where plants decreased the porosity and pore connectivity at the mm scale but had no significant structural effect at the μm scale. These data reveal profound effects of different agricultural management systems upon soil structural modification, which are strongly modulated by the extent of plant presence and also contingent on the inherent texture of the soil.

KeywordsX-ray CT ; Cropping systems; 3D image analysis; Porosity; Pore size distribution; Pore connectivity
Year of Publication2018
JournalGeoderma
Journal citation332, pp. 73-83
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geoderma.2018.07.002
Open accessPublished as green open access
FunderBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Funder project or codeThe Rothamsted Long Term Experiments [2017-2022]
Publisher's version
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online10 Jul 2018
Publication process dates
Accepted02 Jul 2018
PublisherElsevier Science Bv
ISSN0016-7061

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