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

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

Katharina M. Keiblinger, Lisa M. Bauer, Evi Deltedesco, Franz Holawe, Hans Unterfrauner, Franz Zehetner and Robert Peticzka

Abstract

Agricultural intensification, especially enhanced mechanisation of soil management, can lead to the deterioration of soil structure and to compaction. A possible amelioration strategy is the application of (structural) lime. In this study, we tested the effect of two different liming materials, ie limestone (CaCO3) and quicklime (CaO), on soil aggregate stability in a 3-month greenhouse pot experiment with three agricultural soils. The liming materials were applied in the form of pulverised additives at a rate of 2 000 kg ha−1. Our results show a significant and instantaneous increase of stable aggregates after quicklime application whereas no effects were observed for limestone. Quicklime application seems to improve aggregate stability more efficiently in soils with high clay content and cation exchange capacity. In conclusion, quicklime application may be a feasible strategy for rapid improvement of aggregate stability of fine textured agricultural soils.