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Faculty for Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences

Department Soil Ecology - Prof. Dr. Eva Lehndorff

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Vogt, R; Matschonat, G: Patterns of soil solution composition in acid forest soils: differences between undisturbed and bulk samples, Z. Pflanzenernährung Bodenkunde, 160, 549-554 (1997)
In acid forest soils pores draining under conditions of low water tension contain a solution usually differing in composition from the equilibrium solution of the bulk soil. For tree nutrition, the former was described as comparable to the bulk soil solution or less favourable. Our recent work on solution quality contradicted the universal validity of these findings. It turned out that the methods usually recommended tend to consistently reproduce the pattern of more advanced acidification of coarse pores. We applied our combination of methods to a range of soils to find out whether our previous finding of more favourable solution conditions in undisturbed soil samples as compared to the bulk soil is common or rather an exception. Undisturbed cores and bulk soil were sampled from four forested sites differing in pH and base saturation. We used an iterative procedure to adjust the equilibrium soil solution of disturbed soil and a water extraction with a soil:solution ratio of 1:2. To extract solution from undisturbed soil cores only small volumes of water were added, and we distinguished analytically between total (by ICP) and ionic (by CE) concentrations of cations. We calculated Ca/AI molar ratios and the fraction of (AI’+ + H+) on total cationic charge in solution as criteria for solution quality. Whereas with total concentrations, there always appeared to be less favourable conditions in the soil pore solution, free ionic concentrations allowed a differentiation between the soils. In view of plant nutrition, the quality of the soil solution from undisturbed samples was better, equal to, or worse than that of the bulk soil, suggesting that forest sites represent a continuum with respect to these chemical gradients. Even in soils where gradients are not observed it is not necessary to assume an equilibrium achieved by internal processes to exist between coarse pores and the bulk soil.
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