Pedosphere 16(3): 284--296, 2006
ISSN 1002-0160/CN 32-1315/P
©2006 Soil Science Society of China
Published by Elsevier B.V. and Science Press
Heterogeneity of physico-chemical properties in structured soils and its consequences
1 Institute for Plant Nutrition and Soil Science Christian-Albrechts University Kiel(Germany). Email:
2 Earth Sciences/Centre for Mined Land Rehabilitation, The University of Queensland/Brisbane, Brisbane (Australia)
      Structured soils are characterized by the presence of inter- and intra-aggregate pore systems and aggregates, which show varying chemical, physical, and biological properties depending on the aggregate type and land use system. How far these aspects also affect the ion exchange processes and to what extent the interaction between the carbon distribution and kind of organic substances affect the internal soil strength as well as hydraulic properties like wettability are still under discussion. Thus, the objective of this research was to clarify the effect of soil aggregation on physical and chemical properties of structured soils at two scales: homogenized material and single aggregates. Data obtained by sequentially peeling off soil aggregates layers revealed gradients in the chemical composition from the aggregate surface to the aggregate core. In aggregates from long term untreated forest soils we found lower amounts of carbon in the external layer, while in arable soils the differentiation was not pronounced. However, soil aggregates originating from these sites exhibited a higher concentration of microbial activity in the outer aggregate layer and declined towards the interior. Furthermore, soil depth and the vegetation type affected the wettability. Aggregate strength depended on water suction and differences in tillage treatments.
Key Words:  aggregate peeling, aggregation, chemical disequilibrium, microbial activity, water repellency
Citation: Jasinska, E., Wetzel, H., Baumgartl, T. and Horn, R. 2006. Heterogeneity of physico-chemical properties in structured soils and its consequences. Pedosphere. 16(3): 284-296.
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