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Linking Soil Microbial Activity to Water- and Air-Phase Contents and Diffusivities

Schjønning, P.; Thomsen, I. K.; Moldrup, P. and Christensen, B. T. (2003) Linking Soil Microbial Activity to Water- and Air-Phase Contents and Diffusivities. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 67, pp. 156-165.

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Summary

Quantification of in situ soil microbial activity is indispensable in order to improve manipulation of nutrient turnover in soil and optimize crop nutrient supply. We sampled 100 cm3 cores of undisturbed arable soil at three locations along a naturally occurring clay gradient (L1: 11% clay; L3: 22% clay; L5: 34 % clay). The cores were drained to seven different matric potentials in the range –15 to –1500 hPa and gas diffusion determined prior to a 4 week incubation at 20oC in the dark. For all soils the net nitrification increased with water content to a maximum (L1: 12.1, L3: 10.3 and L5: 8.2 g NO3-N g-1 soil) and then decreased with further increase in water content. The water content at maximum nitrification was 0.26, 0.37 and 0.42 m3 m-3, respectively. Calculations of water-filled pore space did not normalize soil type differences in optima for microbial activity. The matric potential at peak net nitrification was –140, –170 and –430 hPa, respectively. No single correlation between CO2 evolution and soil water content existed across soil types. The relative solute diffusivity estimated by recently developed models offered a better description of CO2 evolution. The relative gas diffusivity was a better predictor of the increase in net nitrification than was the soil air content. A conceptual model balancing the effects of solute and gas diffusivity indicated that the relative trend in the observed optima of water contents across soil types was as expected. We advocate the use of the conceptual model including soil type dependent expressions for solute and gas diffusivity in future studies of aerobic microbial activity.


EPrint Type:Journal paper
Subjects: Soil > Nutrient turnover
Research affiliation: Denmark > DARCOF II (2000-2005) > I. 4 (NIMAB) Enhanced bread wheat production
ISSN:0361-5995
Deposited By: Thomsen, Senior scientist Ingrid Kaag
ID Code:273
Deposited On:02 Dec 2002
Last Modified:02 Aug 2012 11:23
Document Language:English
Status:Published
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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