The main objective of this study was to investigate the effects of abiogenic and biogenic factors, and their interaction, on aggregate stability determined at different particle sizes.
Materials and methods
Soil samples with the same land use pattern were collected and fractioned into five aggregate sizes: 10–15 mm, 5–10 mm, 2–5 mm, 0.25–2 mm, and < 0.25 mm. Contents of iron/aluminum (Fe/Al) oxides, soil organic carbon (SOC), clay, and mean weight diameter (MWD) values for aggregates at different sizes were determined. The respective contributions of these factors were further estimated using path analysis.
Results and discussion
The results showed that SOC contents in A horizon declined with the increase of aggregate size. Highest amorphous iron oxide (Feo) contents were observed in 0.25–2 and 2–5 mm aggregates, but highest amorphous aluminum oxide (Alo) contents were found in 5–10 mm aggregates. Abiotic factors (Fe/Al oxides, clay) played a more important role in determining the formation of < 0.25 mm aggregates, whereas both abiotic and biotic factors play an effective role in stabilizing larger aggregates (0.25–2, 2–5, 5–10, and 10–15 mm). The organo-mineral complexes played a certain role in the stability of soil aggregates, especially the larger aggregates.
We conclude that abiotic and biotic factors play variable roles in soil aggregates at different sizes, and more studies are needed to better assess their respective roles to improve our understanding of soil aggregation.
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We thank Professor Hu Hongqing from Huazhong Agricultural University for the determination of clay minerology. The authors thank the editors and anonymous reviewers for their useful comments and suggestions. We also thank Professor Huang Bin from Shenyang Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences for proof reading/English editing.
We are truly grateful for the financial support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 41501289), the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2017YFC0505405), and the Water Conservancy Science and Technology Project of Jiangxi Province (No. KT201520, KT201618, KT201720).
Responsible editor: Claudio Colombo
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Zheng, T., Yang, J., Zhang, J. et al. Factors contributing to aggregate stability at different particle sizes in ultisols from Southern China. J Soils Sediments 19, 1342–1354 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11368-018-2143-8
- Aggregate size
- Mean weight diameter
- Path analysis
- Soil organic carbon