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Erosion Induced Heterogeneity of Soil Organic Matter in Catenae from the Baltic Sea Catchment

Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Soil Science, University of Rostock, Justus-von-Liebig-Weg 6, 18059 Rostock, Germany
Department of Agroecology and Environment, Aarhus University, Blichers Allé 20, Postboks 50, 8830 Tjele, Denmark
Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences, University of Tartu, Vanemuise St. 46, 51014 Tartu, Estonia
Institute of Soil Science and Plant Cultivation, State Research Institute, ul. Czartoryskich 8, 24-100 Puławy, Poland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Soil Syst. 2019, 3(2), 42;
Received: 29 April 2019 / Revised: 5 June 2019 / Accepted: 11 June 2019 / Published: 19 June 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil Erosion and Land Degradation)
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Soil organic matter (SOM) is unevenly distributed in arable fields in undulated landscapes, but the chemical composition resulting from their turnover, transport and deposition processes is insufficiently known. Therefore, we aimed at disclosing the molecular-chemical composition of SOM in four different catenae at shoulderslope, backslope and footslope positions in arable fields in the Baltic Sea catchment, Europe. The backslope positions always had the lowest organic C-contents (Corg) (1.6…11.8 g·kg−1) and C-stocks (3.8…8.5 kg·m−2) compared to the shoulderslopes and footslopes (1.7…17.7 g·Corg·kg−1, 5.4…15 kg·Corg·m−2). In the SOM-poor backslope positions, the organic matter was characterized by relatively high proportions of carbohydrates, phenols + lignin monomers, alkylaromatic compounds, N-compounds and amides, indicating intensive microbial decomposition. By contrast, the footslopes had the largest Corg-contents (9.3…16.5 g·kg−1) and C-stocks (8.9…15 kg·m−2) in the catenae and particular enrichments in lipids, lignin dimers, sterols and free fatty acids. These relatively stabile SOM compound classes are interpreted as leftovers from erosive downslope transport and concurrent microbial decomposition, e.g., they are pronounced at backslope positions, followed by restricted microbial decomposition. This heterogeneous SOM distribution calls for an adapted soil management that reduces erosion and places amendments to field areas, such as the shoulderslope and backslope. View Full-Text
Keywords: catena; soil erosion; SOM quality changes; matter transport; soil conservation; mass spectrometry catena; soil erosion; SOM quality changes; matter transport; soil conservation; mass spectrometry

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Jandl, G.; Baum, C.; Heckrath, G.; Greve, M.H.; Kanal, A.; Mander, Ü.; Maliszewska-Kordybach, B.; Niedzwiecki, J.; Eckhardt, K.-U.; Leinweber, P. Erosion Induced Heterogeneity of Soil Organic Matter in Catenae from the Baltic Sea Catchment. Soil Syst. 2019, 3, 42.

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