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  • 11
    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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  • 12
    Language: English
    In: Vadose Zone Journal, 2009, Vol.8(3), p.805
    Description: It has been speculated that during periods of water deficit, roots may shrink and lose contact with the soil, with a consequent reduction in root water uptake. Due to the opaque nature of soil, however, this process has never been observed in situ for living plants. Through x-ray tomography and image analysis, we have demonstrated the formation and dynamics of air gaps around roots. The high spatial resolution required to image the soil–root gaps was achieved by combining tomography of the entire sample (field of view of 16 by 16 cm, pixel side 0.32 mm) with local tomography of the soil region around the roots (field of view of 5 by 5 cm, pixel side 0.09 mm). For a sandy soil, we found that when the soil dries to a water content of 0.025 m3 m–3, gaps occur around the taproot and the lateral roots of lupin (Lupinus albus L.). Gaps were larger for the taproot than the laterals and were caused primarily by root shrinkage rather than by soil shrinkage. When the soil was irrigated again, the roots swelled, partially refilling the gaps; however, large gaps persisted in the more proximal, older part of the taproot. Gaps are expected to reduce water transfers between soil and roots. Opening and closing of gaps may help plants to prevent water loss when the soil dries, and to restore the soil–root continuity when water becomes available. The persistence of gaps in the more proximal parts is one reason why roots preferentially take up water from their more distal parts. ; Includes references ; p. 805-809.
    Keywords: Soil Water Content ; Roots ; Soil-Plant Interactions ; Shrinkage ; Plants ; Translocation (Plant Physiology) ; Lupinus Albus ; Forage Legumes ; Spatial Variation ; Drought ; Water Stress ; Sandy Soils ; Water Uptake ; Computed Tomography ; Forage Crops ; Image Analysis ; Taproots;
    ISSN: Vadose Zone Journal
    E-ISSN: 1539-1663
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  • 13
    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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  • 14
    Language: English
    In: Biogeosciences, Sept 27, 2019, Vol.16(18), p.3665
    Description: pSoil denitrification is the most important terrestrial process returning reactive nitrogen to the atmosphere, but remains poorly understood. In upland soils, denitrification occurs in hotspots of enhanced microbial activity, even under well-aerated conditions, and causes harmful emissions of nitric (NO) and nitrous oxide (N.sub.2 O). The timing and magnitude of such emissions are difficult to predict due to the delicate balance of oxygen (O.sub.2) consumption and diffusion in soil. To study how spatial distribution of hotspots affects O.sub.2 exchange and denitrification, we embedded microbial hotspots composed of porous glass beads saturated with growing cultures of either Agrobacterium tumefaciens (a denitrifier lacking N.sub.2 O reductase) or Paracoccus denitrificans (a "complete" denitrifier) in different architectures (random vs. layered) in sterile sand that was adjusted to different water saturations (30thinsp;%, 60thinsp;%, 90thinsp;%). Gas kinetics (O.sub.2, CO.sub.2, NO, N.sub.2 O and N.sub.2) were measured at high temporal resolution in batch mode. Air connectivity, air distance and air tortuosity were determined by X-ray tomography after the experiment. The hotspot architecture exerted strong control on microbial growth and timing of denitrification at low and intermediate saturations, because the separation distance between the microbial hotspots governed local oxygen supply. Electron flow diverted to denitrification in anoxic hotspot centers was low (2thinsp;%-7thinsp;%) but increased markedly (17thinsp;%-27thinsp;%) at high water saturation. X-ray analysis revealed that the air phase around most of the hotspots remained connected to the headspace even at 90thinsp;% saturation, suggesting that the threshold response of denitrification to soil moisture could be ascribed to increasing tortuosity of air-filled pores and the distance from the saturated hotspots to these air-filled pores. Our findings suggest that denitrification and its gaseous product stoichiometry depend not only on the amount of microbial hotspots in aerated soil, but also on their spatial distribution. We demonstrate that combining measurements of microbial activity with quantitative analysis of diffusion lengths using X-ray tomography provides unprecedented insights into physical constraints regulating soil microbial respiration in general and denitrification in particular. This paves the way to using observable soil structural attributes to predict denitrification and to parameterize models. Further experiments with natural soil structure, carbon substrates and microbial communities are required to devise and parametrize denitrification models explicit for microbial hotspots.
    Keywords: Nitrogen Oxides – Analysis ; Soil Microbiology – Analysis ; Denitrification – Analysis ; Soil Carbon – Analysis
    ISSN: 1726-4170
    E-ISSN: 17264189
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