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Axel Mentler, Jasmin Schomakers, Stefanie Kloss, Sophie Zechmeister-Boltenstern, Reinhard Schuller and Herwig Mayer

Abstract

Ultrasonic power is the main variable that forms the basis for many soil disaggregation experiments. Thus, a procedure for the rapid determination of this variable has been developed and is described in this article. Calorimetric experiments serve to measure specific heat capacity and ultrasonic power. Ultrasonic power is determined experimentally for deionised water, 30% ethanol and sodium polytungstate with a density of 1.6 g cm−3 and 1.8 g cm−3. All experiments are performed with a pre-selected ultrasonic probe vibration amplitude. Under these conditions, it was found that the emitted ultrasonic power was comparable in the four fluids. It is suggested, however, to perform calibration experiments prior to dispersion experiments, since the used fluid, as well as the employed ultrasonic equipment, may influence the power output.

Open access

Jasmin Schomakers, Franz Zehetner, Axel Mentler, Franz Ottner and Herwig Mayer

Abstract

It has been increasingly recognized that soil organic matter stabilization is strongly controlled by physical binding within soil aggregates. It is therefore essential to measure soil aggregate stability reliably over a wide range of disruptive energies and different aggregate sizes. To this end, we tested highaccuracy ultrasonic dispersion in combination with subsequent sedimentation and X-ray attenuation. Three arable topsoils (notillage) from Central Europe were subjected to ultrasound at four different specific energy levels: 0.5, 6.7, 100 and 500 J cm-3, and the resulting suspensions were analyzed for aggregate size distribution by wet sieving (2 000-63 μm) and sedimentation/X-ray attenuation (63-2 μm). The combination of wet sieving and sedimentation technique allowed for a continuous analysis, at high resolution, of soil aggregate breakdown dynamics after defined energy inputs. Our results show that aggregate size distribution strongly varied with sonication energy input and soil type. The strongest effects were observed in the range of low specific energies (< 10 J cm-3), which previous studies have largely neglected. This shows that low ultrasonic energies are required to capture the full range of aggregate stability and release of soil organic matter upon aggregate breakdown.

Open access

Jasmin Schomakers, Franz Zehetner, Axel Mentler, Franz Ottner and Herwig Mayer

Open access

Gernot Bodner, Axel Mentler, Andreas Klik, Hans-Peter Kaul and Sophie Zechmeister-Boltenstern

Summary

Cover cropping is a key agro-environmental measure in Europe. Cover crops may reduce N2O emissions by reducing soil nitrate content, while easily decomposable residues can enhance greenhouse gas losses. In a field study, emissions from the cover cropped fields compared to the fallow at two climatically different sites (semi-arid vs. humid) in Austria were measured with closed chambers and different driving factors were studied. The height of post-cover crop emissions was compared to gaseous losses during the management operations in the subsequent main crop maize. N2O and CO2 emissions following the cover crops were low even at high emission moments compared to the losses induced by the main crop management operations. Highest risk of N2O losses was from mustards due to low C/N ratio and possibly as a consequence of glucosinolate decomposition. CO2 emissions in the cover cropped plots were generally higher compared to the fallow, indicating an enhanced soil microbiological activity. Dissolved organic carbon was found as a sensitive indicator related to the greenhouse gas emissions. We concluded that the environmental benefits from cover cropping are not achieved at the cost of an enhanced greenhouse gas emission and that pure stands of late sown brassica cover crops should be avoided to prevent any risk of increased N2O losses.

Open access

Gorana Rampazzo Todorovic, Nicola Rampazzo, Axel Mentler, Winfried E.H. Blum, Alexander Eder and Peter Strauss

Abstract

Erosion processes can strongly influence the dissipation of glyphosate and aminomethylphosphonic acid applied with Roundup Max® in agricultural soils; in addition, the soil structure state shortly before erosive precipitations fall can be a key parameter for the distribution of glyphosate and its metabolite. Field rain simulation experiments showed that severe erosion processes immediately after application of Roundup Max® can lead to serious unexpected glyphosate loss even in soils with a high presumed adsorption like the Cambisols, if their structure is unfavourable. In one of the no-tillage-plot of the Cambisol, up to 47% of the applied glyphosate amount was dissipated with surface run-off. Moreover, at the Chernozem site with high erosion risk and lower adsorption potential, glyphosate could be found in collected percolation water transported far outside the 2x2 m experimental plots. Traces of glyphosate were found also outside the treated agricultural fields.