Soil water repellency (SWR, i.e. reduced affinity for water owing to the presence of organic hydrophobic coatings on soil particles) has relevant hydrological implications because low rates of infiltration enhance water runoff, and untargeted diffusion of fertilizers and pesticides. Previous studies investigated the occurrence of SWR in ecosystems with different vegetation cover but did not clarify its relationships with litter biochemical quality. Here, we investigated the capability of different plant litter types to induce SWR by using fresh and decomposed leaf materials from 12 species, to amend a model sandy soil over a year-long microcosm experiment. Water repellency, measured by the Molarity of an Ethanol Droplet (MED) test, was tested for the effects of litter species and age, and compared with litter quality assessed by C-13-CPMAS NMR in solid state and elemental chemical parameters. All litter types were highly water repellent, with MED values of 18% or higher. In contrast, when litter was incorporated into the soil, only undecomposed materials induced SWR, but with a large variability of onset and peak dynamics among litter types. Surprisingly, SWR induced by litter addition was unrelated to the aliphatic fraction of litter. In contrast, lignin-poor but labile C-rich litter, as defined by O-alkyl C and N-alkyl and methoxyl C of C-13-CPMAS NMR spectral regions, respectively, induced a stronger SWR. This study suggests that biochemical quality of plant litter is a major controlling factor of SWR and, by defining litter quality with C-13-CPMAS NMR, our results provide a significant novel contribution towards a full understanding of the relationships between plant litter biochemistry and SWR.

The influence of plant litter on soil water repellency: Insight from 13CNMR spectroscopy

INCERTI, Guido;
2016

Abstract

Soil water repellency (SWR, i.e. reduced affinity for water owing to the presence of organic hydrophobic coatings on soil particles) has relevant hydrological implications because low rates of infiltration enhance water runoff, and untargeted diffusion of fertilizers and pesticides. Previous studies investigated the occurrence of SWR in ecosystems with different vegetation cover but did not clarify its relationships with litter biochemical quality. Here, we investigated the capability of different plant litter types to induce SWR by using fresh and decomposed leaf materials from 12 species, to amend a model sandy soil over a year-long microcosm experiment. Water repellency, measured by the Molarity of an Ethanol Droplet (MED) test, was tested for the effects of litter species and age, and compared with litter quality assessed by C-13-CPMAS NMR in solid state and elemental chemical parameters. All litter types were highly water repellent, with MED values of 18% or higher. In contrast, when litter was incorporated into the soil, only undecomposed materials induced SWR, but with a large variability of onset and peak dynamics among litter types. Surprisingly, SWR induced by litter addition was unrelated to the aliphatic fraction of litter. In contrast, lignin-poor but labile C-rich litter, as defined by O-alkyl C and N-alkyl and methoxyl C of C-13-CPMAS NMR spectral regions, respectively, induced a stronger SWR. This study suggests that biochemical quality of plant litter is a major controlling factor of SWR and, by defining litter quality with C-13-CPMAS NMR, our results provide a significant novel contribution towards a full understanding of the relationships between plant litter biochemistry and SWR.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11390/1104428
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