Estimation of the density of the clay-organic complex in soil

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Soil bulk density was investigated as a function of soil contents of clay and organic matter in arable agricultural soils at a range of locations. The contents of clay and organic matter were used in an algorithmic procedure to calculate the amounts of clay-organic complex in the soils. Values of soil bulk density as a function of soil organic matter content were used to estimate the amount of pore space occupied by unit amount of complex. These estimations show that the effective density of the clay-organic matter complex is very low with a mean value of 0.17 ± 0.04 g ml−1 in arable soils. This value is much smaller than the soil bulk density and smaller than any of the other components of the soil considered separately (with the exception of the gas content). This low value suggests that the clay-soil complex has an extremely porous and open structure. When the complex is considered as a separate phase in soil, it can account for the observed reduction of bulk density with increasing content of organic matter.

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International Agrophysics

The Journal of Institute of Agrophysics of Polish Academy of Sciences

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