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Quantification of macropore properties

Quantification of small-scale physicochemical and microbiological properties of intact macropore surfaces in structured soils

In structured soils, large amounts of water and reactive solutes can be preferentially transported in a complex network of macropores, consisting of earthworm burrows, root channels, shrinkage cracks, and inter-aggregate spaces. During preferential flow events the filtering and buffering functions of soils were bypassed, increasing the risk of groundwater pollution and nutrient losses. The transport of fine mineral particles and organic matter from the topsoil to the subsoil results in an enrichment of these materials at macropore surfaces in the subsoil. Such coatings determine physical, chemical, and microbiological properties of the macropore surfaces. The organic matter composition for instance can affect wettability and sorption properties of coatings during preferential flow events. Macropores as ‘hot spots’ also affect the turnover of organic matter in the subsoil and thus may substantially contribute to the CO2 release from soils.

Based on a previous three-year-old project funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG, own position), Dr. Martin Leue successfully attracted another two-year DFG-funded project. The objectives of this new project are to clarify the microbiological properties of macropore surfaces with respect to organic matter turnover and to quantify the physical, chemical, and microbiological properties of the surfaces for entire soil horizons in a final synthesis. The spatial distribution of soil organic matter and microorganisms along macropore surfaces will be analyzed using fluorescence techniques and DRIFT spectroscopy in cooperation with the Institute of Landscape Biogeochemistry (Dr. S. Wirth). The quantification of macropores by the help of computer tomography (CT) will be developed and processed in cooperation with Prof. Dr. Peth (University of Kassel) und Prof. Dr. Kodesova (University of Life Science Prague). The main goal of these works is to estimate the effects of physical, chemical, and microbiological macropore surface properties on the mass transport (via preferential flow) and turnover processes (CO2 release) in subsoils.



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  Quantification of macropore properties | Quelle: © Dr. M. Leue
Quantification of macropore properties: Quelle: © Dr. M. Leue


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