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Title: Cover crop influence on pore size distribution and biopore dynamics: Enumerating root and soil faunal effects
Pore structure is a key determinant of soil functioning, and both root growth and activity of soil fauna are modified by and interact with pore structure in multiple ways. Cover cropping is a rapidly growing popular strategy for improving agricultural sustainability, including improvements in pore structure. However, since cover crop species encompass a variety of contrasting root architectures, they can have disparate effects on formation of soil pores and their characteristics, thus on the pore structure formation. Moreover, utilization of the existing pore systems and its modification by new root growth, in conjunction with soil fauna activity, can also vary by cover crop species, affecting the dynamics of biopores (creation and demolition). The objectives of this study were (i) to quantify the influence of 5 cover crop species on formation and size distribution of soil macropores (>36 μm Ø); (ii) to explore the changes in the originally developed pore architecture after an additional season of cover crop growth; and (iii) to assess the relative contributions of plant roots and soil fauna to fate and modifications of biopores. Intact soil cores were taken from 5 to 10 cm depth after one season of cover crop growth, followed by X-ray computed micro-tomography (CT) characterization, and then, the cores were reburied for a second root growing period of cover crops to explore subsequent changes in pore characteristics with the second CT scanning. Our data suggest that interactions of soil fauna and roots with pore structure changed over time. While in the first season, large biopores were created at the expense of small pores, in the second year these biopores were reused or destroyed by the creation of new ones through earthworm activities and large root growth. In addition, the creation of large biopores (>0.5 mm) increased total macroporosity. During the second root growing period, these large sized macropores, however, are reduced in size again through the action of soil fauna smaller than earthworms, suggesting a highly dynamic equilibrium. Different effects of cover crops on pore structure mainly arise from their differences in root volume, mean diameter as well as their reuse of existing macropores.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
1832042
NSF-PAR ID:
10357081
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Frontiers in Plant Science
Volume:
13
ISSN:
1664-462X
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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See protocol for more information, refer to link (http://lter.kbs.msu.edu/datatables/36) For maize biomass, grain and whole biomass reported in the paper (weed biomass or surface litter are excluded). Surface litter biomass not included in any crops; weed biomass not included in switchgrass and miscanthus, but included in grass mixture and prairie. fraction    Fraction of biomass biomass_plot    biomass per plot on dry-weight basis (Grams_Per_SquareMeter) biomass_ha    biomass (megaGrams_Per_Hectare) by multiplying column biomass per plot with 0.01 3. Spreadsheet: biomass_poplar Description: Maximum aboveground biomass measurements from poplar plots in Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC) Biomass Cropping System Experiment (BCSE) during 2009-2015. Data shown in Figure 2. Note that poplar biomass was estimated from crop growth curves until the poplar was harvested in the winter of 2013-14. Variate    Description year    year of the observation method    methods of poplar biomass sampling date    day of the observation (mm/dd/yyyy) replicate    each crop has four replicated plots, R1, R2, R3 and R4 diameter_at_ground    poplar diameter (milliMeter) at the ground diameter_at_15cm    poplar diameter (milliMeter) at 15 cm height biomass_tree    biomass per plot (Grams_Per_Tree) biomass_ha    biomass (megaGrams_Per_Hectare) by multiplying biomass per tree with 0.01 4. Spreadsheet: annual N leaching_vol-wtd conc Description: Annual leaching rate (kiloGrams_N_Per_Hectare) and volume-weighted mean N concentrations (milliGrams_N_Per_Liter) of nitrate (no3) and dissolved organic nitrogen (don) in the leachate samples collected from corn, switchgrass, miscanthus, native grass, restored prairie and poplar plots in Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC) Biomass Cropping System Experiment (BCSE) during 2009-2016. Data for nitrogen leached and volume-wtd mean N concentration shown in Figure 3a and Figure 3b, respectively. Note that ammonium (nh4) concentration were much lower and often undetectable (<0.07 milliGrams_N_Per_Liter). Also note that in 2009 and 2010 crop-years, data from some replicates are missing.    Variate    Description crop    “corn” “switchgrass” “miscanthus” “nativegrass” “restored prairie” “poplar” crop-year    year of the observation replicate    each crop has four replicated plots, R1, R2, R3 and R4 no3 leached    annual leaching rates of nitrate (kiloGrams_N_Per_Hectare) don leached    annual leaching rates of don (kiloGrams_N_Per_Hectare) vol-wtd no3 conc.    Volume-weighted mean no3 concentration (milliGrams_N_Per_Liter) vol-wtd don conc.    Volume-weighted mean don concentration (milliGrams_N_Per_Liter) 5. Spreadsheet: summary_N leached Description: Summary of total amount and forms of N leached (kiloGrams_N_Per_Hectare) and the percent of applied N lost to leaching over the seven years for corn, switchgrass, miscanthus, native grass, restored prairie and poplar plots in Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC) Biomass Cropping System Experiment (BCSE) during 2009-2016. Data for nitrogen amount leached shown in Figure 4a and percent of applied N lost shown in Figure 4b. Note the fraction of unleached N includes in harvest, accumulation in root biomass, soil organic matter or gaseous N emissions were not measured in the study. 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Variate    Description crop    “corn” “switchgrass” “miscanthus” “nativegrass” “restored prairie” “poplar” date    date of the observation (mm/dd/yyyy) replicate    each crop has four replicated plots, R1, R2, R3 and R4 nh4 conc    nh4 concentration (milliGrams_N_Per_Liter) no3 conc    no3 concentration (milliGrams_N_Per_Liter)   9. Spreadsheet: correlations_don VS no3_doc VS don Description: Correlations of don and nitrate concentrations (milliGrams_N_Per_Liter); and doc (milliGrams_Per_Liter) and don concentrations (milliGrams_N_Per_Liter) in the leachate samples of corn, switchgrass, miscanthus, native grass, restored prairie and poplar plots in Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC) Biomass Cropping System Experiment (BCSE) during 2013-2015. Data of correlation of don and nitrate concentrations shown in Figure S4 a and doc and don concentrations shown in Figure S4 b. 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  5. Glass, Jennifer B. (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT

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    IMPORTANCE

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