Aggregation and organic matter in subarctic Andosols under different grassland management
Lehtinen, T. ; Gisladottir, G. ; Lair, G.J. ; Leeuwen, J.P. van; Blum, W.E.H. ; Bloem, J. ; Steffens, M. ; Ragnarsdottir, K.V. - \ 2015
Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica Section B-Soil and Plant Science 65 (2015)3. - ISSN 0906-4710 - p. 246 - 263.
c-13 nmr-spectroscopy - soil microbial biomass - mediterranean conditions - structural stability - cultivated soils - farming systems - volcanic soils - carbon stocks - land-use - tillage
Quantity and quality of soil organic matter (SOM) affect physical, chemical, and biological soil properties, and are pivotal to productive and healthy grasslands. Thus, we analyzed the distribution of soil aggregates and assessed quality, quantity, and distribution of SOM in two unimproved and improved (two organic and two conventional) grasslands in subarctic Iceland, in Haplic and Histic Andosols. We also evaluated principal physicochemical and biological soil properties, which influence soil aggregation and SOM dynamics. Macroaggregates (>250 µm) in topsoils were most prominent in unimproved (62–77%) and organically (58–69%) managed sites, whereas 20–250 µm aggregates were the most prominent in conventionally managed sites (51–53%). Macroaggregate stability in topsoils, measured as mean weight diameter, was approximately twice as high in organically managed (12–20 mm) compared with the conventionally managed (5–8 mm) sites, possibly due to higher organic inputs (e.g., manure, compost, and cattle urine). In unimproved grasslands and one organic site, macroaggregates contributed between 40% and 70% of soil organic carbon (SOC) and nitrogen to bulk soil, whereas in high SOM concentration sites free particulate organic matter contributed up to 70% of the SOC and nitrogen to bulk soil. Aggregate hierarchy in Haplic Andosols was confirmed by different stabilizing mechanisms of micro- and macroaggregates, however, somewhat diminished by oxides (pyrophosphate-, oxalate-, and dithionite-extractable Fe, Al, and Mn) acting as binding agents for macroaggregates. In Histic Andosols, no aggregate hierarchy was observed. The higher macroaggregate stability in organic farming practice compared with conventional farming is of interest due to the importance of macroaggregates in protecting SOM and soils from erosion, which is a prerequisite for soil functions in grasslands that are envisaged for food production in the future.
Do aggregate stability and soil organic matter content increase following organic inputs?
Bloem, J. ; Lehtinen, T. ; Gisladottir, G. ; Leeuwen, J.P. van; Steffens, M. - \ 2014
Agriculture is facing several challenges such as loss of soil organic matter (SOM); thus, sustainable farming management practices are needed. Organic farming is growing as an alternative to conventional farming; in Iceland approximately 1% and in Austria 16% of utilized agricultural area is under organic farming practice. We analyzed the effect of different farming practices (organic, and conventional) on soil physicochemical and microbiological properties in grassland soils in Iceland and cropland soils in Austria. Organic farms differed from conventional farms by absence of chemical fertilizers and pesticide use. At these farms, we investigated soil physicochemical (e.g. soil texture, pH, CAL-extractable P and K) and microbiological properties (fungal and bacterial biomass and activity). The effects of farming practices on soil macroaggregate stability and SOM quantity, quality and distribution between different fractions were studied following a density fractionation. In Iceland, we sampled six grassland sites on Brown (BA) and Histic (HA) Andosols; two sites on extensively managed grasslands, two sites under organic and two sites under conventional farming practice. In Austria, we sampled four cropland sites on Haplic Chernozems; two sites under organic and two sites under conventional farming practice. We found significantly higher macroaggregate stability in the organic compared to the conventional grasslands in Iceland. In contrast, slightly higher macroaggregation in conventional compared to the organic farming practice was found in croplands in Austria, although the difference was not significant. Macroaggregates were positively correlated with fungal biomass in Iceland, and with Feo and fungal activity in Austria. In Austria, SOM content and nutrient status (except for lower CAL-extractable P at one site) were similar between organic and conventional farms. Our results show that the organic inputs may have enhanced macroaggregation in organic farming practice compared to conventional in the permanent grassland soils in Iceland but were only enough to maintain the SOM content and macroaggregation in the cropland soils in Austria.