Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems

, Volume 89, Issue 1, pp 135–142 | Cite as

Short-term fates of high sulfur inputs in Northern California vineyard soils

  • Eve-Lyn S. Hinckley
  • Scott Fendorf
  • Pamela Matson


The widespread application of elemental sulfur (S0) to vineyards may have ecosystem effects at multiple scales. We evaluated the short-term fates of applied S0 in a Napa Valley vineyard; we determined changes in soil sulfur (S) speciation (measured by X-ray absorption near-edge structure (XANES) spectroscopy), soil pH, extractable sulfate (SO4 2−), and total S to evaluate changes in acidity and soil S within the vineyard over time. Surface soil samples were collected immediately prior to and following two applications of S0 (6.7 kg S0 ha−1), with weekly collections in the 2 weeks between applications and following the last application. XANES spectra indicated that the majority of soil S persists in the +6 oxidation state and that S0 oxidizes within 7 days following application. Soil pH and extractable SO4 2− measurements taken at 30 min after S0 application revealed generation of acidity and an increase in extractable SO4 2−, but by 12 days after application, soil pH increased to approximately pre-application levels. These data suggest that the major consequence of reactive S applications in vineyards may be the accumulation of soil SO4 2− and organic S during the growing season, which can be mobilized during storm events during the dormant (wet) season. In spatially-extensive winegrowing regions where these applications are made by hundreds of individual farmers each year, it will be important to understand the long-term implications of this perturbation to the regional S cycle.


Elemental sulfur Fungicide Napa Valley Sulfur cycling Vineyards X-ray absorption near-edge structure spectroscopy 



This research was funded by an EPA-STAR Fellowship and a Geological Society of America grant to E. Hinckley, and funds from Stanford University to P. Matson. We thank A. Anderson and B. Falk at Cain Vineyards and S.L. Perry at McCormick Ranch for their generosity in providing site access, and the students and instructors of Acorn Soupe for assisting with field collections. Thanks to B. Kocar and M. Polizzotto for assistance with XANES data processing and interpretation, and C. Kendall and M. Rollog at the USGS (Menlo Park, CA) for total S analysis of soils. K. Loague, P. Vitousek, and two anonymous reviewers provided comments to improve this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eve-Lyn S. Hinckley
    • 1
    • 2
  • Scott Fendorf
    • 3
  • Pamela Matson
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Geological and Environmental SciencesStanford UniversityStanfordUSA
  2. 2.Institute of Arctic and Alpine ResearchUniversity of Colorado at BoulderBoulderUSA
  3. 3.Department of Environmental Earth Systems ScienceStanford UniversityStanfordUSA

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