Dispersed clay and organic matter in soil: their nature and associations

Nelson, P.N., Baldock, J.A., Clarke, P., Oades, J.M., and Churchman, G.J. (1999) Dispersed clay and organic matter in soil: their nature and associations. Australian Journal of Soil Research, 37 (2). pp. 289-316.

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Abstract

Clay dispersion in soil results in structural instability and management problems. The aim of this study was to determine whether or not the easily dispersed colloidal materials differ in their properties from colloidal materials that do not disperse easily. Soil samples from the topsoil of sodic and non-sodic variants of an Alfisol under irrigated pasture (Kyabram, Victoria, Australia), and from the topsoil and subsoil of a sodic Alfisol under cultivation (Two Wells, South Australia) were fractionated into easily dispersed, moderately dispersed, and difficult to disperse clay, and silt, sand, and light fractions. As a proportion of total clay, easily dispersed clay content was greatest in the subsoil, and least in the Kyabram topsoils. In the topsoils, easily dispersed clay had larger particle size and lower cation exchange capacity than difficult to disperse clay, suggesting that high surface area and charge lead to increased inter-particle interactions and lower dispersibility. Easily dispersed clay had lower organic C contents than difficult to disperse clay. Organic matter was examined by 13C nuclear magnetic resonance, and the spectra were interpreted using major groups of biomolecules as model components. In all soils, organic matter in the easily dispersed clay fraction contained a high proportion of amino acids, suggesting that amino acids or proteins acted as dispersants. Difficult to disperse clay contained a high proportion of aliphatic materials in the topsoils, and carbohydrate in the subsoil, suggesting that these materials acted as water-stable glues. Selectivity for Na (KG) was negatively correlated with organic C content in the clay fractions. In the Kyabram soils, KG was greater in easily dispersed clay than in di±cult to disperse clay. In Two Wells soil, clay with high KG appeared to have already moved out of the topsoil, into the subsoil. This work showed that variability in the nature of organic matter and clay particles has an important influence on clay dispersion in sodic and non-sodic soils.

Item ID: 11710
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
ISSN: 1446-568X
Date Deposited: 31 Aug 2010 00:15
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0503 Soil Sciences > 050304 Soil Chemistry (excl Carbon Sequestration Science) @ 50%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0503 Soil Sciences > 050305 Soil Physics @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9614 Soils > 961402 Farmland, Arable Cropland and Permanent Cropland Soils @ 100%
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