Enrichment Ratio and Aggregate Stability Dynamics in Intensely Managed Landscapes

Friday, 18 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Kenneth Wacha1, Thanos Papanicolaou2, Timothy R Filley3, Tingyu Hou3, Benjamin K Abban2, Christopher G Wilson2 and John Boys2, (1)University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, United States, (2)University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, United States, (3)Purdue University, Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, West Lafayette, IN, United States
Challenges in understanding the soil carbon dynamics within intensely managed landscapes (IMLs), found throughout much the US Midwest, is highly complex due to the presence of heterogeneous landscape features and properties, as well as a mosaic of physical and biogeochemical processes occurring at different time scales. In addition, rainfall events exacerbate the effects of tillage by the impact of raindrops, which break down aggregates that encase carbon and dislodge and entrain soil particles and aggregates along the downslope. The redistribution of soil and carbon can have huge implications on biogeochemical cycling and overall carbon budgeting. In this study, we provide some rare field data on the mechanisms impacting aggregate stability, enrichment ratio values to estimate fluxes of carbon, as well as lignin chemistry to see influences on oxidation/mineralization rates. Rainfall simulation experiments were conducted within agricultural fields. Experiments were performed on the midslope (eroding) and toeslope (depositional) sections of representative hillslopes, under a variety of land managements, including row crop (conventional and conservation) and restored grasslands. Sensors were utilized to capture the evolution of soil moisture, temperature, microbial respiration pulses, and discharge rates to identify pseudo-steady state conditions. Samples collected at the weir outlet were tested for sediment concentrations and size fractions, as well as carbon and lignin fluxes. Preliminary findings show that conservation management practices have higher aggregate stability and decreased mass fluxes of carbon in the downslope than conventional tillage techniques.