Physical land degradation and loss of soil fertility: soil structural stability and bio-physical indicators

Mare, Boussa Tockville (2014) Physical land degradation and loss of soil fertility: soil structural stability and bio-physical indicators, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Scienze e tecnologie agrarie, ambientali e alimentari, 26 Ciclo. DOI 10.6092/unibo/amsdottorato/6638.
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This study investigates the changes in soil fertility due to the different aggregate breakdown mechanisms and it analyses their relationships in different soil-plant systems, using physical aggregates behavior and organic matter (OM) changes as indicators. Three case studies were investigated: i) an organic agricultural soil, where a combined method, aimed to couple aggregate stability to nutrients loss, were tested; ii) a soil biosequence, where OM chemical characterisation and fractionation of aggregates on the basis of their physical behaviour were coupled and iii) a soils sequence in different phytoclimatic conditions, where isotopic C signature of separated aggregates was analysed. In agricultural soils the proposed combined method allows to identify that the severity of aggregate breakdown affected the quantity of nutrients lost more than nutrients availability, and that P, K and Mg were the most susceptible elements to water abrasion, while C and N were mainly susceptible to wetting. In the studied Chestnut-Douglas fir biosequence, OM chemical properties affected the relative importance of OM direct and indirect mechanisms (i.e., organic and organic-metallic cements, respectively) involved in aggregate stability and nutrient losses: under Douglas fir, high presence of carboxylate groups enhanced OM-metal interactions and stabilised aggregates; whereas under Chestnut, OM directly acted and fresh, more C-rich OM was preserved. OM direct mechanism seemed to be more efficient in C preservation in aggregates. The 13C natural abundance approach showed that, according to phytoclimatic conditions, stable macroaggregates can form both around partially decomposed OM and by organic-mineral interactions. In topsoils, aggregate resistance enhanced 13C-rich OM preservation, but in subsoils C preservation was due to other mechanisms, likely OM-mineral interactions. The proposed combined approach seems to be useful in the understanding of C and nutrients fate relates to water stresses, and in future research it could provide new insights into the complexity of soil biophysical processes.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Mare, Boussa Tockville
Dottorato di ricerca
Scuola di dottorato
Scienze agrarie
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
soil; aggregate stability; soil organic matter; C preservation; soil nutrient depletion; slaking; water abrasion; water stress; 13C; Micro-attenuated total reflectance infrared spectroscopy; organic cultivation; Douglas fir; Beech; Chestnut
Data di discussione
27 Maggio 2014

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