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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Short Communications

Application of Flow Field-Flow Fractionation and Laser Sizing to Characterize Soil Colloids in Drained and Undrained Lysimeters


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 37 No. 4, p. 1656-1660
    Received: Nov 6, 2007

    * Corresponding author(s): lgimbert@plymouth.ac.uk
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  1. Laura J. Gimbert *a,
  2. Philip M. Haygarthb and
  3. Paul J. Worsfolda
  1. a School of Earth, Ocean and Environmental Sciences, Univ. of Plymouth, Drake Circus, Plymouth, Devon, PL4 8AA, UK
    b Cross Institute Programme for Sustainable Soil Function (SoilCIP), Inst. of Grassland and Environmental Research (IGER), North Wyke, Okehampton, Devon, EX20 2SB, UK


This paper reports the use of a new technique, flow field-flow fractionation (FlFFF), for the characterization of soil sampled under grassland. FlFFF can be used to determine the fine colloidal material in the <1 μm fraction obtained by gravitational settling of 1% m/v soil suspensions. The aim of this work was to determine the potential of FIFFF to characterize soil colloids in drained and undrained field lysimeters from soil cores sampled at different depths. Two different grassland lysimeter plots of 1 ha, one drained and one undrained, were investigated, and the soil was sampled at 20-m intervals along a single diagonal transect at three different depths (0–2, 10–12, and 30–32 cm). The results showed that there was a statistically significant (P = 0.05) increase in colloidal material at 30- to 32-cm depth along the transect under the drained lysimeter, which correlates with disturbance of the soil at this depth due to the installation of tile drains at 85-cm depth backfilled to 30-cm depth with gravel. Laser sizing was also used to determine the particles in the size range 1 to 2000 μm and complement the data obtained using FlFFF because laser sizing lacks resolution for the finer colloidal material (0.1–1.0 μm). The laser sizing data showed increased heterogeneity at 30- to 32-cm depth, particularly in the 50 to 250 μm size fraction. Therefore FIFFF characterized the finer material and laser sizing the coarser soil fraction (<2000 μm) at depth in drained and undrained grassland. This is of importance as colloidal material is more mobile than the larger material and consequently an important vector for contaminant transport from agricultural land to catchments.

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Copyright © 2008. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science SocietyAmerican Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America