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Open access

Nina Stoppe and Rainer Horn

Abstract

Differences in soil stability, especially in visually comparable soils can occur due to microstructural processes and interactions. By investigating these microstructural processes with rheological investigations, it is possible to achieve a better understanding of soil behaviour from the mesoscale (soil aggregates) to macroscale (bulk soil). In this paper, a rheological investigation of the factors influencing microstructural stability of riparian soils was conducted. Homogenized samples of Marshland soils from the riparian zone of the Elbe River (North Germany) were analyzed with amplitude sweeps (AS) under controlled shear deformation in a modular compact rheometer MCR 300 (Anton Paar, Germany) at different matric potentials. A range physicochemical parameters were determined (texture, pH, organic matter, CaCO3 etc.) and these factors were used to parameterize pedotransfer functions. The results indicate a clear dependence of microstructural elasticity on texture and water content. Although the influence of individual physicochemical factors varies depending on texture, the relevant features were identified taking combined effects into account. Thus, stabilizing factors are: organic matter, calcium ions, CaCO3 and pedogenic iron oxides; whereas sodium ions and water content represent structurally unfavorable factors. Based on the determined statistical relationships between rheological and physicochemical parameters, pedotransfer functions (PTF) have been developed.

Open access

Karolina Villagra-Mendoza and Rainer Horn

Abstract

Water and solute transports in the vadose zone depend on the distribution, size, shape and configuration of the pores. They affect the soil hydraulic properties and, consequently, the directly related processes such as water storage, infiltration, groundwater recharge, and also erosion and runoff. Soils amended with biochar are prompt to improve their physical and hydraulic properties. Biochar addition alters not only porosity, the water retention pattern and the derived pore distribution, but also the hydraulic conductivity under saturated and unsaturated conditions. In our work, two different doses (2.5 and 5% dry wt.) were added to two textured soils (sand and sandy loam). The unsaturated hydraulic conductivity and saturated hydraulic conductivity were measured under laboratory conditions. The obtained results show the positive effect of biochar on the hydraulic functions. For the sandy soil, the higher the dose of biochar, the more constant and relatively higher is the hydraulic conductivity up to - 40 kPa. At less negative matric potentials (< -10 kPa), the unamended sandy loam soil showed a slightly higher unsaturated hydraulic conductivity, compared to the amended soils. These results underline that biochar addition enhances the transport of water under unsaturated conditions by reducing the formation of larger pores while also intensifying the finer inter-particle pore formation.

Open access

Ayodele Ebenezer Ajayi and Rainer Horn

Abstract

Changing climate is threatening rainfall regularity particularly in the semi-arid and arid regions; therefore, strategies to conserve water within their coarse-grained soils and to improve water use efficiency of crops are critical. This study compared the effectiveness of biochar and two types of clay materials in augmenting water retention and improving mechanical resilience of fine sand. The amendment of fine sand with woodchip-biochar and kaolinite (non-swelling clay) and Na-bentonite (swelling clay) improved the water retention capacity and interparticle bonding of the substrate depending of the rate of amendment and water content of the substrates. Na-bentonite was more effective at increasing water retention capacity at more negative matric potentials. Biochar was more effective at saturation due to the increased porosity, while kaolinite responds similarly to biochar. It is, however, shown that most of the water retained by the Na-betonite may not be available to plants, particularly at high amendment rate. Furthermore, the clay and biochar materials improved particle bonding in the fine sand with the Na-bentonite being more effective than biochar and kaolinite (in that order) in strengthening interparticle bonds and improving the resilience of fine sand, if the rate of amendment is kept at ≤50 g kg-1.

Open access

Steffen Beck-Broichsitter, Heiner Fleige and Rainer Horn

Abstract

During a period of 4 years, soil chemical and physical properties of the temporary capping system in Rastorf (Northern Germany) were estimated, whereby compost was partly used as soil improver in the upper recultivation layer. The air capacity and the available water capacity of soil samples were first determined in 2013 (without compost), and then in 2015 (with compost) under laboratory conditions. Herein, the addition of compost had a positive effect on: the air capacity up to 13.4 cm3 cm−3; and the available water capacity up to 20.1 cm3 cm−3 in 2015, in the recultivation layer (0-20 cm). However, taking into account the in situ results of the tensiometer and frequency domain reflectometry measurements, the addition of compost had a negative effect. The soil-compost mixture led to restricted remoistening even after a normal summer drying period in autumn and induced more negative matric potentials in the recultivation layer. In summary, the soil-improving effect of the compost addition, in conjunction with an increased water storage capacity, is undeniable and was demonstrated in a combined field and laboratory study. Therefore, intensive hydrophobicity can inhibit the homogeneous remoistening of the soil, resulting in a decreased hydraulic effectiveness of the sealing system.

Open access

Amrei Voelkner, Dörthe Holthusen, Ruth H. Ellerbrock and Rainer Horn

Abstract

Anaerobic digestates are used as organic fertilizers; however, they are suspected to interfere negatively with soils. To investigate the relevance of the anaerobic digestates composition on potential wettability and contact angle of the soil, we mixed in a laboratory experiment 30 m³ ha-1 of anaerobic digestates derived from mechanically pre-treated substrates from maize and sugar beet with a homogenized Cambic Luvisol. Fourier transform infrared-spectra and diffuse reflectance infrared Fourier transform-spectra of particle intact and finely ground soilanaerobic digestates-mixtures were analyzed to determine the quantities of hydrophobic functional groups in the soil-anaerobic digestates-mixtures that are used here as an indicator for the potential hydrophobicity. The anaerobic digestates application increased the amount of hydrophobic functional groups of the mixtures and reduced the wettability of the soil. However, for intact particle samples an up to threefold higher amount of hydrophobic groups was found as compared to the finely ground ones, indicating a dilution effect of mechanical grinding on the effectivity of the organic matter that is presumably located as a coating on mineral soil particles. For the particle intact samples, the intensity of hydrophobic functional groups bands denoting hydrophobic brickstones in organic matter is indicative for the actual wettability of the soil-anaerobic digestates-mixtures.

Open access

Emilia Urbanek, Rainer Horn and Alwin J.M. Smucker

Abstract

Reduced soil tillage practices are claimed to improve soil health, fertility and productivity through improved soil structure and higher soil organic matter contents. This study compares soil structure stability of soil aggregates under three different tillage practices: conventional, reduced and no tillage. The erosive strength of soil aggregates has been determined using the abrasion technique with the soil aggregate erosion chambers (SAE). During abrasion soil aggregates have been separated into the exterior, transitional and interior regions. The forces needed to remove the material from the aggregate were calculated as erosive strength and compared with the tensile strength of the aggregates derived from crushing tests. The relationship between aggregate strength and other soil properties such as organic carbon and hydrophobic groups’ content has also been identified.

The results show that erosive and tensile strength of soil aggregates is very low in topsoil under conventional and reduced tillage comparing with the subsoil horizons. Negative correlation was found between the content of organic carbon, hydrophobic compounds and erosive aggregate strength which suggests that the stabilising effect of soils organic carbon may be lost with drying. The positive relationship between the tensile strength and erosive strength for aggregates of 8-5 mm size suggests that the total strength of these aggregates is controlled by the sum of strength of all concentric layers

Open access

Christoph Haas, Dörthe Holthusen, Anneka Mordhorst, Jerzy Lipiec and Rainer Horn

Abstract

Soil management alters physical, chemical and biological soil properties. Stress application affects microbiological activity and habitats for microorganisms in the root zone and causes soil degradation. We hypothesized that stress application results in altered greenhouse gas emissions if soil strength is exceeded. In the experiments, soil management dependent greenhouse gas emissions of intact soil cores (no, reduced, conventional tillages) were determined using two experimental setups; CO2 emissions were determined with: a dynamic measurement system, and a static chamber method before and after a vertical soil stress had been applied. For the latter CH4 and N2O emissions were analyzed additionally. Stress dependent effects can be summed as follows: In the elastic deformation range microbiological activity increased in conventional tillage soil and decreased in reduced tillage and no tillage. Beyond the precompression stress a release of formerly protected soil organic carbon and an almost total loss of CH4 oxidizability occurred. Only swelling and shrinkage of no tillage and reduced tillage regenerated their microhabitat function. Thus, the direct link between soil strength and microbial activity can be applied as a marker for soil rigidity and the transition to new disequilibria concerning microbial activity and composition.

Open access

Anneka Mordhorst, Heiner Fleige, Iris Zimmermann, Bernd Burbaum, Marek Filipinski, Eckhard Cordsen and Rainer Horn

Zusammenfassung

Die Verbesserung der Humusspeicherung in Böden im Hinblick auf eine nachhaltige Landbewirtschaftung erfordert genaue Kenntnisse über den organischen Kohlenstoff(Corg)-Vorrat in Böden, wobei auch die Wechselwirkungen zwischen Bodentyp, geologischem Ausgangsgestein sowie Landnutzung berücksichtigt werden müssen. Auf der Grundlage von insgesamt 925 Bodenprofilen in den vier Hauptnaturräumen (Östliches Hügelland, Vorgeest, Hohe Geest und Marsch) Schleswig-Holsteins (Norddeutschland) wurde der Corg-Vorrat bis in eine Tiefe von 90 cm quantifiziert. Die horizontspezifischen Parameter (u. a. auch Trockenrohdichte und Korngrößenverteilung) wurden im Rahmen der seit ca. 1970 durchgeführten bodenkundlichen Leitprofilaufnahmen vom Landesamt für Landwirtschaft, Umwelt und ländliche Räume Schleswig-Holstein (LLUR) und deren Vorgängerbehörden erhoben. Die vier Hauptnaturräume enthalten unterschiedliche Corg-Vorräte in den Bodentiefen 0–30, 30–60 und 60–90 cm. Insgesamt werden in Schleswig-Holstein mindestens 244 Mt Corg (0–90 cm Tiefe) gespeichert, wobei je nach Landnutzung, Bodentyp und geologischem Ausgangsgestein deutliche Unterschiede auftreten. Im Oberboden variieren die Corg-Vorräte von ca. 60 t/ha (Ackerböden der Marsch/des Östlichen Hügellands) bis ca. 130 t/ha (Grünlandböden der Geest). Im Unterboden verfügen neben den Mooren die humusreichen Marschböden, die Kolluvisole (Alt- und Jungmoränengebiet) und Gley-Podsole (Hohe Geest und Vorgeest) über die höchsten Corg-Vorräte bis 90 cm Tiefe. Das Speicher- und Verlustpotenzial von Humusmengen durch einen Landnutzungswechsel ist daher auch bodentypspezifisch zu bewerten.

Open access

Marcin K. Widomski, Witold Stępniewski, Rainer Horn, Andrzej Bieganowski, Lucjan Gazda, Małgorzata Franus and Małgorzata Pawłowska

Abstract

This paper presents studies concerning the applicability of two clay materials for the construction of a sustainable landfill liner. The studies consisted in determination of basic characteristics of the materials, eg particle size distribution, bulk density, particle density, total porosity, pore size, mineralogy, specific surface area, nanoparticle size, and Atterberg limits, as well as measurements of their geotechnical and hydraulic parameters, such as in situ saturated hydraulic conductivity, modules of primary and secondary compression, cohesion, and angle of internal friction. Furthermore, the effects of compaction performed by the Proctor method at various water contents on swelling and shrinkage characteristics and saturated hydraulic conductivity were investigated in order to determine the compliance with the national requirements for selection of material for landfill liner construction. The determined characteristics and geotechnical parameters of the tested clay materials allowed qualifying them as suitable for municipal landfill construction. The shrinkage potential of the tested clays observed was rated as moderate to very high. The cyclic drying and rewetting of the clay materials performed resulted in a significant increase in saturated hydraulic conductivity. Thus, the clay sealing layers, as part of a multilayer liner, should be very carefully operated, preventing the drying out of the clay sealing and assuring the possibility of its constant saturation.