Early detection of the effects of compaction in forested soils: evidence from selective extraction techniques

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Nawaz, MF, Bourrie, G, Trolard, F, Ranger, J, Gul, S & Niazi, NK in press, 'Early detection of the effects of compaction in forested soils: evidence from selective extraction techniques', Journal of Soils and Sediments.

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Purpose Soil compaction resulting from mechanisation of forest operations reduces air permeability and hydraulic conductivity of soil and can result in the development of hydromorphic and/or anoxic conditions. These hydromorphic conditions can affect physico-chemical properties of the soils. However, early detection of these effects on mineralogical portion of soils is methodologically difficult.

Materials and methods To analyse the effects of soil compaction on iron minerals in loamy Luvisol, three compacted and three non-compacted soil profiles up to the depth of 50 cm were collected from an artificially deforested and compacted soils after 2 years of treatment. Soil was compacted with the help of 25 Mg wheeler’s load to increase the dry bulk density of soil from 1.21 ± 0.05 to 1.45 ± 0.1 g cm−3. Soil samples were analysed by X-ray diffraction (XRD) and were treated by citrate bicarbonate (CB) and dithionite citrate bicarbonate (DCB) under controlled conditions. Major and minor elements (Fe, Al, Mg, Si and Mn) were analysed by ICP-AES in the CB and DCB extracts.

Results and discussion It was found that X-ray diffraction is not an enough sensitive method to detect the quick mineralogical changes due to soil compaction. Results obtained from CB-DCB extractions showed that soil compaction resulted in larger CB and smaller DCB extractable elements as compared to non-compacted soil. Labile Fe was found 30 % of total Fe oxides in compacted soil against 10–14 % in non-compacted soils. Compaction thus resulted in Fe transfer from non-labile to labile oxides (s.l.). Results showed that soil compaction leads to the reduction of Fe3+ to Fe2+. The effects of hydromorphic conditions due to soil compaction were observed up to the depth of 35 cm in forest soil profile. Furthermore, a close association of Al with Fe oxides was observed in the soil samples, while Mn and Si were mainly released from other sources, Mg showing an intermediate behaviour. Conclusions Hydromorphic conditions owing to soil compaction affect the mobility and crystallisation process of iron mineral. CB-DCB selective extraction technique, in contrast to XRD technique, can be effectively used to examine the possible effects of soil compaction on iron minerals.