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This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 72 No. 5, p. 1344-1356
     
    Received: Sept 27, 2007
    Published: Sept, 2008


    * Corresponding author(s): peter.buurman@wur.nl
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doi:10.2136/sssaj2007.0352

Comparison of Michigan and Dutch Podzolized Soils: Organic Matter Characterization by Micromorphology and Pyrolysis-GC/MS

  1. Peter Buurman *a,
  2. Antoine G. Jongmansb and
  3. Klaas G. J. Nieropc
  1. a Earth System Sci. and Climate Change Group, Dep. of Environmental Sciences, Wageningen Univ., P.O. Box 47, 6700 AA Wageningen, the Netherlands
    b Land Dynamics Group, Dep. of Environmental Sciences, Wageningen Univ., P.O. Box 47, 6700 AA Wageningen, the Netherlands
    c IBED-Earth Surface Processes and Materials, Univ. van Amsterdam, Nieuwe Achtergracht 166, 1018 WV Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Abstract

Soil organic matter in a chronosequence of Michigan soils (Spodic Udipsamments and precursors) was studied in thin section and by pyrolysis-gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS). The Michigan soils were compared with a well-drained Dutch Typic Haplorthod that was studied with the same methods. Both techniques indicate that most B-horizon organic matter in the Michigan sequence is root- and char-derived and not due to illuviation. Microbial matter contributes significantly to B-horizon chemistry. Although charcoal is common in A horizons, it hardly contributes to soil organic matter (SOM) chemistry in this horizon, while it constitutes a significant part of B-horizon C. This suggests that silt-size particulate charcoal is transported downward. Nitrogen-containing pyrolysis fragments are abundant, which, together with significant amounts of aromatic components, points to contribution of proteins. The Michigan soils are far less rich in alkyl C than the Dutch counterpart. This suggests a much lower residual accumulation of recalcitrant compounds in the former, probably due to a larger contribution of root litter and a more efficient decomposition. Faster decomposition (shorter mean residence time) in the Michigan soils is also suggested by the low accumulation of SOM in the B horizon. Thus we can conclude that in the Michigan soils, dissolved organic matter contributes significantly to transport of Al and Fe, but essentially without illuviation of organic matter in the B. In the Dutch Spodosol, on the other hand, both transport of dissolved organic C to the B horizon and accumulation of SOM through decomposition of roots play important roles. Pyrolysis-GC/MS is a powerful tool in deciphering organic-matter-related aspects of soil genesis. The formation of many soils is organic matter driven, and this aspect is still poorly understood.

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