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  • 1
    Language: English
    In: Soil Science Society of America Journal, 2013, Vol.77(2), p.403
    Description: The influence of clay content in soil-pore structure development and the relative importance of macroporosity in governing convective fluid flow are two key challenges toward better understanding and quantifying soil ecosystem functions. In this study, soil physical measurements (soil-water retention and air permeability) and x-ray computed tomography (CT) scanning were combined and used from two scales on intact soil columns (100 and 580 cm super(3)). The columns were sampled along a natural clay gradient at six locations (L1, L2, L3, L4, L5 and L6 with 0.11, 0.16, 0.21, 0.32, 0.38 and 0.46 kg kg super(-1) clay content, respectively) at a field site in Lerbjerg, Denmark. The water-holding capacity of soils markedly increased with increasing soil clay content, while significantly higher air permeability was observed for the L1 to L3 soils than for the L4 to L6 soils. Higher air permeability values observed for 580- than 100-cm super(3) soil columns implied a scale effect and relatively greater importance of macropores in convective fluid flow at larger scale. Supporting this, x-ray CT showed that both interaggregate pores and biopores (pores formed by earthworms and plant roots) were present at L1 to L3 in decreasing order, whereas only interaggre- gate pores were observed at L4 to L6. Macroporosity inferred from x-ray CT to quantify pores 1 mm decreased from 2.9 to 0.1 % from L1 to L6. A progressive improvement was observed in the linear relationship (R super(2) increasing 0.50-0.95) of air permeability with total air-filled porosity, CT-inferred macroporosity, and CT-inferred limiting macroporosity (minimum macroporosity for any quarter of soil column). The findings of this study show the immense potential in linking x-ray CT-derived soil-pore parameters with classical soil physical measurements for quantifying soil architecture and functions. [PUBLICATION]
    Keywords: Soil ; Permeability ; Earthworms ; Soil Structure ; Clay ; Porosity ; Computed Tomography ; Denmark ; Air Pollution;
    ISSN: Soil Science Society of America Journal
    E-ISSN: 0361-5995
    E-ISSN: 14350661
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  • 2
    Language: English
    In: Frontiers in Microbiology, 01 August 2018, Vol.9
    Description: Over the last 60 years, soil microbiologists have accumulated a wealth of experimental data showing that the bulk, macroscopic parameters (e.g., granulometry, pH, soil organic matter, and biomass contents) commonly used to characterize soils provide insufficient information to describe quantitatively the activity of soil microorganisms and some of its outcomes, like the emission of greenhouse gasses. Clearly, new, more appropriate macroscopic parameters are needed, which reflect better the spatial heterogeneity of soils at the microscale (i.e., the pore scale) that is commensurate with the habitat of many microorganisms. 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. With regard to the microbial aspects, although 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 of the scarcity of relevant experimental data. For significant progress to be made, it is 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: Soil Microbiology ; Biodiversity ; Upscaling ; Tomography ; X-Ray Computed ; Nanosims Imaging ; Biology
    E-ISSN: 1664-302X
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  • 3
    Language: English
    In: Geoderma, 01 July 2019, Vol.345, pp.63-71
    Description: Soil structure is not static but undergoes continuous changes due to a wide range of biotic and abiotic drivers such as bioturbation and the mechanical disturbance by tillage. This continuous alteration of soil structure beyond the pure swelling and shrinking of some stable structure is what we refer to as soil structure dynamics. It has important consequences for carbon turnover in soil as it controls how quickly soil organic matter gets occluded from or exposed to mineralization. So far there are hardly any direct observations of the rate at which soil pores are formed and destroyed. Here we employ are recently introduced labeling approach for soil structure that measures how quickly the locations of small garnet particles get randomized in soil as a measure for soil structure dynamics. We investigate the effect of desiccation crack dynamics on pore space attributes in general and soils structure turnover in particular using X-ray microtomography for repeated wetting-drying cycles. This is explored for three different soils with a range of soil organic matter content, clay content and different clay mineralogy that were sieved to a certain aggregate size fraction (0.63–2 mm) and repacked at two different bulk density levels. The total magnitude of desiccation crack formation mainly depended on the clay content and clay mineralogy. Higher soil organic matter content led to a denser crack pattern with smaller aperture. Wetting-drying cycles did not only effect visible macroporosity (〉8 μm), but also unresolved mesoporosity. The changes in macroporosity were higher at lower bulk density. Most importantly, repeated wetting-drying cycles did not lead to a randomization of distances between garnet particles and pores. This demonstrates that former failure zones are reactivated during subsequent drying cycles. Hence, wetting-drying resulted in reversible particle displacement and therefore would not have triggered the exposure of occluded carbon that was not already exposed during the previous drying event.
    Keywords: Soil Structure ; Desiccation Cracks ; X-Ray Tomography ; Macropores ; Clay Mineralogy ; Carbon Turnover ; Agriculture
    ISSN: 0016-7061
    E-ISSN: 1872-6259
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  • 4
    Language: English
    In: Geoderma, 15 July 2019, Vol.346, pp.52-62
    Description: Some soil physical properties can easily be measured using classical laboratory methods. However, explicit valuable information on the real morphology of the pore structure as well as soil physical properties cannot be obtained at the same time with classical methods. This requires non-destructive measurements such as X-ray computed tomography (CT). However, explicit valuable information on the real morphology of the pore structure as well as soil physical properties cannot be obtained at the same time with classical methods. This paper combines parameters obtained from CT analysis (mean macropore diameter, macroporosity, pore connectivity, anisotropy) and classical laboratory methods (dry bulk and aggregate density, saturated hydraulic conductivity, mechanical precompression stress) to analyse soil compaction, exemplified on samples from two tillage treatments (cultivator and plough) and at two moisture states (6 and 1000 kPa matric potential) on a Chernozem collected at a soil depth of 16–22 cm (texture 0–30 cm: silty clay loam). The study shows that the matric potential can have a decisive impact on the mechanical stability of soil. In the loose but less stable plough treatment a more negative matric potential was clearly beneficial to the mechanical stability. In already dense soil structures, as in the cultivator treatment, a reduction of water content was less effective in increasing soil stability. The CT parameters were all closely and uniquely related to each other. The shown CT parameters can be used for a standardized characterization of the soil. Ploughing has a positive effect on soil structure which persists only as long as macroporosity and mean macropore diameter remain high. Plough maintains higher pore connectivity when compacted under dry conditions.
    Keywords: X-Ray CT ; Mechanical Soil Analysis ; Conservation Tillage ; Conventional Tillage ; Soil Compaction ; Precompression Stress ; Agriculture
    ISSN: 0016-7061
    E-ISSN: 1872-6259
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