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Effects of soil compaction, rain exposure and their interaction on soil carbon dioxide emission

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date07/2012
JournalEarth Surface Processes and Landforms
Journal number9
Volume37
Number of pages6
Pages994-999
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Soils release more carbon, primarily as carbon dioxide (CO2), per annum than current global anthropogenic emissions. Soils emit CO2 through mineralization and decomposition of organic matter and respiration of roots and soil organisms. Given this, the evaluation of the effects of abiotic factors on microbial activity is of major importance when considering the mitigation of greenhouse gases emissions. Previous studies demonstrate that soil CO2 emission is significantly affected by temperature and soil water content. A limited number of studies have illustrated the importance of bulk density and soil surface characteristics as a result of exposure to rain on CO2 emission, however, none examine their relative importance. Therefore, this study investigated the effects of soil compaction and exposure of the soil surface to rainfall and their interaction on CO2 release. We conducted a factorial laboratory experiment with three soil types after sieving (clay, silt and sand soil), three different bulk densities (1.1?g cm3, 1.3?g cm3, 1.5?g cm3) and three different exposures to rainfall (no rain, 30 minutes and 90 minutes of rainfall). The results demonstrated CO2 release varied significantly with bulk density, exposure to rain and time. The relationship between rain exposure and CO2 is positive: CO2 emission was 53% and 42% greater for the 90 minutes and 30 minutes rainfall exposure, respectively, compared to those not exposed to rain. Bulk density exhibited a negative relationship with CO2 emission: soil compacted to a bulk density of 1.1?g cm3 emitted 32% more CO2 than soil compacted to 1.5?g cm3. Furthermore we found that the magnitude of CO2 effluxes depended on the interaction of these two abiotic factors. Given these results, understanding the influence of soil compaction and raindrop impact on CO2 emission could lead to modified soil management practices which promote carbon sequestration. Copyright (C) 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.