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  • 1
    Language: English
    In: Vadose Zone Journal, 01 March 2018, Vol.17(1)
    Description: X-ray radiography is a suitable approach to study water dynamics in undisturbed soil. However, beam hardening impairs the deduction of soil moisture changes from X-ray attenuation, especially when studying infiltration of water into cylindrical soil columns. We developed a calibration protocol to correct for beam hardening effects that enables the quantitative determination of changing average water content in two-dimensional projections. The method works for a broad range of materials and is easy to implement. Moreover, we studied the drift of X-ray attenuation values due to the detector latency and eliminated its contribution to the quantitative analysis. Finally we could visualize the dynamics of infiltrating water into undisturbed cylindrical soil samples.
    Keywords: Agriculture
    ISSN: 1539-1663
    E-ISSN: 1539-1663
    Source: Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)
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  • 2
    Language: English
    In: Frontiers in Environmental Science, 01 April 2018, Vol.6
    Description: Soil-borne nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions have a high spatial and temporal variability which is commonly attributed to the occurrence of hotspots and hot moments for microbial activity in aggregated soil. Yet there is only limited information about the biophysical processes that regulate the production and consumption of N2O on microscopic scales in undisturbed soil. In this study, we introduce an experimental framework relying on simplified porous media that circumvents some of the complexities occuring in natural soils while fully accounting for physical constraints believed to control microbial activity in general and denitrification in particular. We used this framework to explore the impact of aggregate size and external oxygen concentration on the kinetics of O2 consumption, as well as CO2 and N2O production. Model aggregates of different sizes (3.5 vs. 7 mm diameter) composed of porous, sintered glass were saturated with a defined growth medium containing roughly 109 cells ml−1 of the facultative anaerobic, nosZ-deficient denitrifier Agrobacterium tumefaciens with N2O as final denitrification product and incubated at five different oxygen levels (0–13 vol-%). We demonstrate that the onset of denitrification depends on the amount of external oxygen and the size of aggregates. Smaller aggregates were better supplied with oxygen due to a larger surface-to-volume ratio, which resulted in faster growth and an earlier onset of denitrification. In larger aggregates, the onset of denitrification was more gradual, but with comparably higher N2O production rates once the anoxic aggregate centers were fully developed. The normalized electron flow from the reduced carbon substrate to N-oxyanions (edenit-/etotal- ratio) could be solely described as a function of initial oxygen concentration in the headspace with a simple, hyperbolic model, for which the two empirical parameters changed with aggregate size in a consistent way. These findings confirm the important role of soil structure on N2O emissions from denitrification by shaping the spatial patterns of microbial activity and anoxia in aggregated soil. Our dataset may serve as a benchmark for constraining or validating spatially explicit, biophysical models of denitrification in aggregated soil.
    Keywords: Greenhouse Gas Emissions ; Denitrification Kinetics ; Microbial Hotspots ; Microsites ; Anoxic Aggregate Centers ; Agrobacterium Tumefaciens ; Environmental Sciences
    E-ISSN: 2296-665X
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  • 3
    Language: English
    In: Frontiers in Microbiology, 2018, Vol.9, p.1929
    Description: Over the last 60 years, soil microbiologists have accumulated a wealth of experimental data showing that the usual bulk, macroscopic parameters used to characterize soils (e.g., granulometry, pH, soil organic matter and biomass contents) provide insufficient information to describe quantitatively the activity of soil microorganisms and some of its outcomes, like the emission of greenhouse gases. Clearly, new, more appropriate macroscopic parameters are needed, which reflect better the spatial heterogeneity of soils at the microscale (i.e., the pore scale). For a long time, spectroscopic and microscopic tools were lacking to quantify processes at that scale, but major technological advances over the last 15 years have made suitable equipment available to researchers. In this context, the objective of the present article is to review progress achieved to date in the significant research program that has ensued. This program can be rationalized as a sequence of steps, namely the quantification and modeling of the physical-, (bio)chemical-, and microbiological properties of soils, the integration of these different perspectives into a unified theory, its upscaling to the macroscopic scale, and, eventually, the development of new approaches to measure macroscopic soil characteristics. At this stage, significant progress has been achieved on the physical front, and to a lesser extent on the (bio)chemical one as well, both in terms of experiments and modeling. In terms of microbial aspects, whereas a lot of work has been devoted to the modeling of bacterial and fungal activity in soils at the pore scale, the appropriateness of model assumptions cannot be readily assessed because relevant experimental data are extremely scarce. For the overall research to move forward, it will be crucial to make sure that research on the microbial components of soil systems does not keep lagging behind the work on the physical and (bio)chemical characteristics. Concerning the subsequent steps in the program, very little integration of the various disciplinary perspectives has occurred so far, and, as a result, researchers have not yet been able to tackle the scaling up to the macroscopic level. Many challenges, some of them daunting, remain on the path ahead.Fortunately, a number of these challenges may be resolved by brand new measuring equipment that will become commercially available in the very near future.
    Keywords: Life Sciences ; X-Ray Computed ; Upscaling ; Biodiversity ; Soil Microbiology ; Tomography ; Single-Cell Genomics ; Nanosims Imaging ; Biology
    ISSN: 1664-302X
    E-ISSN: 1664-302X
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  • 4
    Language: English
    In: SOIL, 2018, Vol.4(1), pp.83-92
    Description: The central importance of soil for the functioning of terrestrial systems is increasingly recognized. Critically relevant for water quality, climate control, nutrient cycling and biodiversity, soil provides more functions than just the basis for agricultural production. Nowadays, soil is increasingly under pressure as a limited resource for the production of food, energy and raw materials. This has led to an increasing demand for concepts assessing soil functions so that they can be adequately considered in decision-making aimed at sustainable soil management. The various soil science disciplines have progressively developed highly sophisticated methods to explore the multitude of physical, chemical and biological processes in soil. It is not obvious, however, how the steadily improving insight into soil processes may contribute to the evaluation of soil functions. Here, we present to a new systemic modeling framework that allows for a consistent coupling between reductionist yet observable indicators for soil functions with detailed process understanding. It is based on the mechanistic relationships between soil functional attributes, each explained by a network of interacting processes as derived from scientific evidence. The non-linear character of these interactions produces stability and resilience of soil with respect to functional characteristics. We anticipate that this new conceptional framework will integrate the various soil science disciplines and help identify important future research questions at the interface between disciplines. It allows the overwhelming complexity of soil systems to be adequately coped with and paves the way for steadily improving our capability to assess soil functions based on scientific understanding.
    Keywords: Soil Stability ; Evaluation ; Agricultural Production ; Modelling ; Agricultural Management ; Biodiversity ; Soil Stability ; Food Production ; Water Quality ; Raw Materials ; Biological Activity ; Decision Making ; Soil Improvement ; Soil Science ; Terrestrial Environments ; Interactions ; Water Quality ; Soil Management ; Modelling ; Raw Materials ; Raw Materials ; Soil Sciences ; Water Quality ; Soils ; Framework ; Stability ; Nutrient Cycles ; Mathematical Models ; Agricultural Production ; Biodiversity ; Nutrients (Mineral) ; Soils ; Decision Making ; Water Quality ; Biodiversity ; Biodiversity;
    ISSN: SOIL
    E-ISSN: 2199-398X
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