Changes in organic carbon concentration and organic matter compound of erosion-delivered soil aggregates

  • Gergely JakabEmail author
  • Judit Szabó
  • Zoltán Szalai
  • Erzsébet Mészáros
  • Balázs Madarász
  • Csaba Centeri
  • Boglárka Szabó
  • Tibor Németh
  • Péter Sipos
Original Article


Soil organic carbon (SOC) is a key property for both fertility and carbon level control in the atmosphere. SOC changes in soils are ruled by tillage and erosion. Initial SOC erosion was investigated using a laboratory rainfall simulator. Six precipitation events were modelled on cultivated, bare Cambisol monolith with various slope steepness and surface roughness under a constant intensity of 80 mm h−1. The total amount of soil loss was divided into four aggregate size classes (<0.05, 0.05–0.25, 0.25–1.00, >1.00 mm). Altogether, 72 sediment and 16 in situ samples were analysed. The results show a loss of SOC concentration that increased at all aggregate sizes, the highest (~200 %) found in the smallest grain size, while conversely nitrogen concentration decreased in the 250–1000 μm class. Consequently, soil organic matter (SOM) compounds underwent changes during the initial erosion processes in soil losses of all aggregate sizes. The detached SOM was less polymerised and had more aromatic character compared to that of the in situ soil in all aggregate size classes. The type of SOM enrichment found through the soil loss in this study is a result of two parallel processes within initial erosion phenomenon: (I) chemical degradation of the most labile SOM components and (II) mineralogical changes in the smallest aggregate class (<0.05 mm) that results in a considerable amount of quartz leaving the aggregates and remaining on the surface. The results suggest that tillage operations regarding stability of the smallest aggregates have particular importance in SOC conservation.


Selective erosion Conventional tillage Soil organic carbon redistribution Subhumid climate Rainfall simulation Cambisol 



This study was supported by the Hungarian Scientific Research Fund (OTKA) PD-100929, which is kindly acknowledged here. G. Jakab was supported by the János Bolyai research fellowship by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. The authors are also grateful to the Egegyümölcs Ltd. for providing the study site. Special thanks to K. Fehér for the laboratory support, L. Bassa, G. Buttafuoco and the unknown reviewers for improving the quality of this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gergely Jakab
    • 1
    Email author
  • Judit Szabó
    • 2
  • Zoltán Szalai
    • 1
    • 2
  • Erzsébet Mészáros
    • 1
  • Balázs Madarász
    • 1
  • Csaba Centeri
    • 3
  • Boglárka Szabó
    • 3
  • Tibor Németh
    • 4
  • Péter Sipos
    • 4
  1. 1.Geographical Institute RCAES, HASBudapestHungary
  2. 2.Department of Environmental and Landscape GeographyEötvös Loránd UniversityBudapestHungary
  3. 3.Department of Nature Conservation and Landscape EcologySzent István UniversityGödöllőHungary
  4. 4.Institute for Geochemical Research RCAES, HASBudapestHungary

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