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Accepted, edited articles are published here after author proofing to provide rapid publication and better access to the newest research. Articles are compiled into issues at dl.sciencesocieties.org/publications/sssaj, which includes the complete archive.

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Nouwakpo, S. K. and C.-H. Huang. 2012. A Fluidized Bed Technique for Estimating Soil Critical Shear Stress Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. doi:10.2136/sssaj2012.0056

Current issue: Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 80(4)


    • Bruce A. Roundy and Matthew D. Madsen
      Frost Dynamics of Sagebrush Steppe Soils

      Sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) steppe rangelands in the western United States are converting to weedy landscapes after large-scale wildfires. To restore ecosystem function, perennial grasses, shrubs, and forbs are sown in fall after summer wildfires or in association with mechanical fuel reduction projects. Recent research has indicated that seeds may germinate too soon after fall sowing and seedlings suffer high mortality from frost during the winter. To help determine the length of germination delay needed to avoid seedling frost mortality and to help guide frost-tolerance experiments, we analyzed fall to spring soil temperatures from 2010 to 2014 on six sagebrush–bunchgrass sites and eight woodland sites where conifers had invaded sagebrush communities. (continued)

      Core Ideas:
      • Rangeland restoration seedings may sometimes fail due to frost damage.
      • Seed coatings could delay seed germination until spring.
      • Frost dynamics were characterized by soil temperatures on 14 sagebrush steppe sites.
      • More than 60 frost periods occurred at 2-cm depth from fall to spring.
      • Freezing began in late October and ended in March.

      Published: September 22, 2016


    • Justin L. Reeves and Mark A. Liebig
      Depth Matters: Soil pH and Dilution Effects in the Northern Great Plains

      In the northern Great Plains (NGP) of North America, surface sampling depths of 0 to 15 or 0 to 20 cm are suggested for testing soil characteristics such as pH. However, acidification is often most pronounced near the soil surface. Thus, sampling deeper can potentially dilute (increase) pH measurements and therefore change management recommendations. Here, we show evidence from two long-term (16–19 yr) dryland cropping experiments that soil acidification at 0 to 7.6 cm was notably diluted at both 0 to 15.2 and 0 to 30.5 cm. (continued)

      Core Ideas:
      • Suggested soil testing depths in the northern Great Plains are 0–15 or 0–20 cm.
      • Soil acidification is often most pronounced in near-surface depths.
      • Soil pH change was evaluated in two long-term dryland cropping studies.
      • Soil acidification at 0–7.6 cm was notably diluted at both 0–15.2 and 0–30.5 cm.
      • We suggest sampling soils at <8 cm for testing pH in the northern Great Plains.

      Published: September 1, 2016


    • Jeffrey P. Beem-Miller, Angela Y.Y. Kong, Stephen Ogle and David Wolfe
      Sampling for Soil Carbon Stock Assessment in Rocky Agricultural Soils

      Coring methods commonly employed in soil organic C (SOC) stock assessment may not accurately capture soil rock fragment (RF) content or soil bulk density (ρb) in rocky agricultural soils, potentially biasing SOC stock estimates. Quantitative pits are considered less biased than coring methods but are invasive and often cost-prohibitive. We compared fixed-depth and mass-based estimates of SOC stocks (0.3-m depth) for hammer, hydraulic push, and rotary coring methods relative to quantitative pits at four agricultural sites ranging in RF content from <0.01 to 0.24 m3 m−3. Sampling costs were also compared. (continued)

      Core Ideas:
      • Soil mass is the greatest source of uncertainty for C stocks on rocky soils.
      • Coring methods underestimate soil rock fragment content.
      • Hammer coring methods underestimate soil mass.
      • Mass-based C stock reporting can overcome coring method bias.
      • Rotary corers are a cost-competitive and less biased alternative to standard corers.

      Published: August 30, 2016


    • Abhinav Gupta, Bhabani Sankar Das, Ashish Kumar, Poulamee Chakraborty and Biswajita Mohanty
      Rapid and Noninvasive Assessment of Atterberg Limits Using Diffuse Reflectance Spectroscopy

      In this study, Atterberg limits were estimated using pedotransfer functions (PTFs), spectral-transfer functions (STFs), and spectral PTFs (SPTFs). In the PTF approach, basic soil properties were used to calibrate PTFs using stepwise multiple linear regression and support-vector regression (SVR) approaches. In the STF approach, spectral reflectance values across the visible to near-infrared (VNIR) and mid-infrared (MIR) regions were used to estimate Atterberg limits using the SVR and partial least squares regression (PLSR) approaches along with bootstrapping. Also, two locally weighted PLSR models were developed using covariance and correlation as weighting schemes. (continued)

      Core Ideas:
      • Diffuse reflectance spectroscopy has potential for the estimation of Atterberg limits.
      • Visible, near-, and mid-infrared regions of electromagnetic spectra were utilized.
      • Atterberg limits were estimated by correlation with other spectrally active soil properties.

      Published: August 19, 2016

    • M.W. Valerio, P.A. McDaniel and P.E. Gessler
      Distribution and Properties of Podzolized Soils in the Northern Rocky Mountains

      Although not recognized on land system inventory maps, Spodosols have been documented in the volcanic ash–mantled landscapes of the Northern Rocky Mountains (Major Land Resource Area 43A). This study focuses on terrain attributes and environmental gradients as potential predictors of the distribution and properties of podzolized soils in the region. Seventy-two forested sites were sampled using hierarchical randomization. Podzolization, as indicated by the presence of a spodic horizon, was observed at 43 sites. (continued)

      Core Ideas:
      • Podzolization is a widespread pedogenic process in the Northern Rocky Mountains.
      • Podzolization is strongly influenced by terrain attributes and environmental gradients.
      • Northern Rocky Mountain landscapes are dominated by Spodosols, spodic intergrades, and Andisols.

      Published: September 1, 2016


    • Syaharudin Zaibon, Stephen H. Anderson, Newell R. Kitchen and Samuel I. Haruna
      Hydraulic Properties Affected by Topsoil Thickness in Switchgrass and Corn–Soybean Cropping Systems

      Loss of productive topsoil by erosion with time can reduce the productive capacity of soil and can significantly affect soil physical and hydraulic properties. This study evaluated the effects of reduced topsoil thickness and perennial switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) vs. a corn (Zea mays L.)–soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] rotation on soil bulk density (ρb), saturated hydraulic conductivity (Ksat), soil water retention, and pore size distributions. The experiment was conducted at the University of Missouri South Farm on a Mexico silt loam (a Vertic Epiaqualf). (continued)

      Core Ideas:
      • Growing a cellulosic bioenergy crop on degraded soils helps restore soil function.
      • Switchgrass improved hydraulic properties of degraded claypan landscapes.
      • Depth to claypan horizon was the main factor controlling these hydraulic properties.

      Published: September 22, 2016

    • Wei Hu, Fenli Zheng and Feng Bian
      The Directional Components of Splash Erosion at Different Raindrop Kinetic Energy in the Chinese Mollisol Region

      Splash erosion is an important process of hillslope erosion. However, there is little information available in the literature to show how rainfall physical parameters affect the directional components of splash erosion. Therefore, the objectives of this study were to investigate the effects of rainfall physical parameters (rainfall intensity [RI], raindrop kinetic energy [KE], and raindrop diameter) on the directional components (upslope, lateral, downslope) of splash erosion characteristics in the Chinese Mollisol region. A specially designed soil pan, which can measure the directional components of splash erosion, was subjected to designed rainfall intensities of 50 and 100 mm h−1 and varying raindrop KE. (continued)

      Core Ideas:
      • Directional components of splash erosion and effects of raindrop kinetic energy were investigated.
      • Lateral splash erosion played a significant role in supplying detached particles to adjacent areas.
      • We fit equations for total and net splash erosion to rainfall physical parameters.
      • We used cross-validation to test the equations.

      Published: September 8, 2016

    • Tunsisa T. Hurisso, Steve W. Culman, William R. Horwath, Jordon Wade, Deandra Cass, Joshua W. Beniston, Timothy M. Bowles, A. Stuart Grandy, Alan J. Franzluebbers, Meagan E. Schipanski, Shawn T. Lucas and Carmen M. Ugarte
      Comparison of Permanganate-Oxidizable Carbon and Mineralizable Carbon for Assessment of Organic Matter Stabilization and Mineralization

      Permanganate-oxidizable C (POXC) and mineralizable C (as determined by short-term aerobic incubation of rewetted soil) are measures of active organic matter that may provide early indication of soil C stabilization and mineralization processes. To date, the relationship between these two promising active organic matter tests has not been comprehensively evaluated, and little is known about their functional role in the soil ecosystem. Here, we examined the relationship between POXC and mineralizable C across a wide range of soil types, management histories, and geographic locations across the United States (13 studies, 76 total sites; n = 1071) and the ability of POXC and mineralizable C to predict crop yield and total aboveground biomass. Results from this comparative analysis showed that POXC and mineralizable C are related (r2 = 0.15–0.80) but that the relationship was differentially influenced by management practices. (continued)

      Core Ideas:
      • POXC and mineralizable C were evaluated across diverse agroecosystems.
      • The two are related but differentially influenced by management practices.
      • POXC better reflected SOM stabilizing practices.
      • Mineralizable C reflected SOM mineralizing practices.
      • Both predicted agronomic performance better than other soil C fractions.

      Published: September 8, 2016

    • Changkun Wang and Xianzhang Pan
      Estimation of Clay and Soil Organic Carbon Using Visible and Near-Infrared Spectroscopy and Unground Samples

      Visible and near-infrared spectroscopy (Vis-NIR) can accurately predict soil organic C (SOC) and clay from the spectra of air-dried and ground (DG) samples. However, grinding generally requires a lot of time and labor. In this study, air-dried and unground (DU) samples were used to exploit the time and accuracy advantages of Vis-NIR. The reflectance of 117 samples using DG and DU pretreatments was measured in the laboratory. (continued)

      Core Ideas:
      • The spectra of unground samples can be used to predict soil organic C (SOC) and clay.
      • Vis-NIR spectroscopy models for ground samples can predict SOC and clay of unground samples.
      • Using unground samples will save time and labor when estimating SOC and clay.

      Published: September 1, 2016

    • Z.W. Li, L. Liu, X.D. Nie, X.F. Chang, C. Liu and H.B. Xiao
      Modeling Soil Organic Carbon Loss in Relation to Flow Velocity and Slope on the Loess Plateau of China

      Soil organic C (SOC) loss is usually estimated in relation to sediment loss in the long term and at a large scale. Further studies on building a simple SOC prediction model for individual rainfall events are thus needed. Simulated rainfall experiments were conducted under two rainfall intensities (90 and 120 mm h−1) and four typical slope gradients (10, 15, 20, and 25°). Two types of soils (Suide and Changwu) with different textures were selected. (continued)

      Core Ideas:
      • Total soil loss was significantly correlated to SOC loss.
      • SOC content affected the relationship of soil loss and SOC loss.
      • A simple SOC prediction model for individual rainfall events was built.
      • Rainfall intensity and slope influenced the SOC enrichment ratio.

      Published: September 1, 2016


    • Yuan Li, Wenquan Niu, Jingwei Wang, Lu Liu, Mingzhi Zhang and Jian Xu
      Effects of Artificial Soil Aeration Volume and Frequency on Soil Enzyme Activity and Microbial Abundance when Cultivating Greenhouse Tomato

      Artificial soil aeration can enhance soil enzyme activity, improve soil nutrient cycling, and increase crop growth and yield. We studied the response of soil microorganisms and soil enzyme activity to two levels of burial depths of subsurface tubing in combination with four levels of aeration volume and three frequency levels of supplemental soil aeration. The aeration volumes (V) were 0, 0.5, 1, and 1.5 times (CK, V1, V2, and V3, respectively) the estimated porosity of the plot rhizosphere. Burial depths (D) of subsurface tubing were 15 and 40 cm (D15 and D40). (continued)

      Core Ideas:
      • Rhizosphere soil enzymes activity showed an initial increase followed by a decrease.
      • Soil aeration can enhance the activities of three rhizosphere soil enzymes.
      • Aeration frequency and volume can significantly affect rhizosphere enzyme activities.
      • Aeration can enhance the activities of non-rhizosphere soil enzymes.
      • Soil aeration can increase tomato yield.

      Published: September 22, 2016


    • Hailin Yao, Liang Liu, Shiyong Sun and Ran Fang
      Swelling Behavior of Montmorillonites Noncolloidally Crosslinked with ε-Al 13

      Studies concerning noncolloidally crosslinked montmorillonites (NCMs) are significant for the chemical treatment of expansive soil. In this study, NCMs with OH/Al molar ratios of 1.0, 1.5, 2.0, and 2.5 and Al/montmorillonite ratios of 0.1, 0.3, 0.5, 0.8, and 1.0 mmol g−1 were prepared via AlCl3–NaOH reactions and subsequent Al13–montmorillonite interactions. The resulting NCMs exhibited the characteristics of silt as well as significant expansion and mechanical property changes. The expansion properties of the NCM samples, including the free swelling ratio, swelling force, free expansion ratio, and expansion ratio under 50 kPa all decreased significantly. (continued)

      Core Ideas:
      • The expansion properties of montmorillonites treated with PHA steeply decreased.
      • A mixture of montmorillonites and PHA solution is not a colloidal system.
      • Al13 groups are the main intercalator and factor influencing swelling behavior.
      • The treatment may be applied in expansive soil research.

      Published: September 22, 2016


    • Amir Sadeghpour, Quirine M. Ketterings, Francoise Vermeylen, Gregory S. Godwin and Karl J. Czymmek
      Soil Properties under Nitrogen- vs. Phosphorus-Based Manure and Compost Management of Corn

      Concerns about P enrichment of soil, streams, and lakes, NH3 emissions from surface-applied manure, and increasing N fertilizer costs have resulted in greater adoption of manure incorporation at rates that approximate P removal. A 5-yr field study was conducted comparing the influence of annual spring applications of N- vs. P-removal-based compost (74 and 46 Mg ha−1 wet basis, respectively), liquid dairy manure (196 and 68 kL ha−1, respectively), and sidedress N fertilizer (0 and 112 kg ha−1) on soil pH, soil organic matter (SOM), respiration, NO3–N, and soil test P (STP) and K (STK) in a corn (Zea mays L.) silage cropping system on a calcareous central New York soil. Manure was incorporated with tillage in the P-removal-based system. (continued)

      Core Ideas:
      • Annual application of manure to corn at P-removal based rates will reduce P buildup over time.
      • Lowering manure and compost rates over time will impact SOM.
      • Tillage-based incorporation of manure at lower rates will aid in N conservation but impact SOM buildup.

      Published: September 22, 2016

    • Stewart G. Wilson, Jean-Jacques Lambert and Randy A. Dahlgren
      Seasonal Phosphorus Dynamics in a Volcanic Soil of Northern California

      Phosphorus dynamics and management strategies were investigated in a strongly weathered rhyolitic soil in the northern Coast Ranges of California. Recent conversion of upland, native oak (Quercus spp.) woodland ecosystems to winegrape production has led to a P deficiency in these soils. We investigated the growing season behavior of Hedley phosphorus fractions, the P sorption index (PSI), microbial biomass C (MBC), and dissolved organic C (DOC) in response to a single P application from three sources: composted steer manure (CSM), triple superphosphate (TSP), and mixed compost and triple superphosphate (MIX). Phosphorous sources, equal in P application rate (39 kg ha−1), were applied in the winter of 2012, and soils were sampled in spring, summer, and fall. (continued)

      Core Ideas:
      • Phosphorous fertility was evaluated in weathered volcanic soil in winegrape production.
      • Seasonal Hedley P fractionations, P sorption, microbial biomass carbon, and DOC were investigated.
      • Application of compost, alone or with TSP, reduced sorption and increased MBC.
      • Labile Pi responded significantly to fertilization despite advanced pedogenesis.
      • Significant labile Pi response in weathered soil may be due to low-Fe lithology.

      Published: September 8, 2016

    • Md. Rasel Parvej, Nathan A. Slaton, Matthew S. Fryer, Trenton L. Roberts and Larry C. Purcell
      Postseason Diagnosis of Potassium Deficiency in Soybean Using Seed Potassium Concentration

      Soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] seed nutrient concentrations may be useful for postseason diagnosis of nutrient deficiencies to identify reasons for lower-than-expected yields. Our objective was to determine the relationships between seed-K and soil-K concentrations and relative soybean yield and to develop potential seed-K concentration thresholds for diagnosis of K deficiency as a yield-limiting factor. Soil-test K and seed-K concentrations and yield data were collected from published and unpublished K fertilization research conducted in Arkansas (33 site-years), Indiana (1 site-year), Iowa (34 site-years), Missouri (1 site-year), Tennessee (6 site-years), Virginia (1 site-year), and Canada (24 site-years). Seed-K concentrations accounted for 66% of the variation in relative yield of soybean receiving no fertilizer K for Arkansas, 48% for Iowa, 78% for Canada, and 60% for North America from a database that included 100 site-years. (continued)

      Core Ideas:
      • Seed-K concentrations accounted for 60% of the variation in relative yield of unfertilized soybean for 100 site-years in North America.
      • The proposed deficient seed-K concentration (<16.5 g kg−1) identified fields that responded positively to fertilizer K 77% of the time.
      • Seed-K concentration difference with and without fertilizer K decreased with the increase of soil K.
      • Seed-K concentrations can help diagnose reasons for low yields and correct K deficiency for subsequent crops.

      Published: August 30, 2016

    • Chinyere B. Okebalama, Ebenezer Y. Safo, Edward Yeboah, Robert C. Abaidoo and Vincent Logah
      Fertilizer Microdosing in the Humid Forest Zone of Ghana: An Efficient Strategy for Increasing Maize Yield and Income in Smallholder Farming

      High fertilizer costs pose a challenge in smallholder farming; optimizing fertilizer recommendations that are affordable to resource-poor farmers could increase crop yield and income. The study aimed to determining the yield and economic effects of N–P–K fertilizer microdosing on maize (Zea mays L.) crops on Gleyic Plinthic Acrisol (GPA) and Plinthic Acrisol (PA) in the semideciduous rainforest zone of Ghana using a split-plot randomized complete block design with three replications. The field trial included two cropping systems (continuous maize cropping [CMC] and cowpea [Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp.]–maize rotation [CMR]) as main plots with four treatments (N0P0K0, N0P20K20, N0P40K20, and N20P40K20) and the recommended fertilizer rate (N90P60K60) as subplots. Fertilizer treatment effects on maize stover and grain yields were assessed. (continued)

      Core Ideas:
      • N–P–K fertilizer microdosing increased maize yields by 99% in the humid forest zone.
      • Gleyic Plinthic Acrisol produced higher maize grain yield than the Plinthic Acrisol.
      • Microdosing increased N, P, and K use efficiency of maize in rotation vs. sole cropping.
      • Maize grain yield and net returns were optimal with N20P40K20 and N0P40K20 microdoses.

      Published: August 30, 2016

    • Fien Degryse, Rodrigo C. da Silva, Roslyn Baird and Mike J. McLaughlin
      Effect of Cogranulation on Oxidation of Elemental Sulfur: Theoretical Model and Experimental Validation

      Most studies on elemental sulfur (ES) oxidation have focused on small ES particles mixed through soil, even though commercial ES fertilizers are usually in granular form. Although it has been recognized that cogranulation of ES decreases its oxidation rate, no attempt has been made to quantify this effect. We developed a conceptual model that predicts the “effective diameter” (the diameter of ES particles mixed through soil that would oxidize at the same rate as the granulated ES) by taking into account the effect of granulation on the effective surface area available to the ES in the granule cavity after the soluble macronutrient compound in the fertilizer has diffused away. To validate the model, the oxidation rate was determined for ES-fortified monoammonium phosphate fertilizer with varying ES content (20–250 g kg−1), ES particle diameter (25 or 60 μm), and granule diameter (1.8 or 3.4 mm). (continued)

      Core Ideas:
      • Fertilizers with ES are usually in granular form.
      • Cogranulation of ES reduces its oxidation rate.
      • This granulation effect was modeled based on the reduction in effective surface area.
      • The model was verified against experimental data for ES-fortified fertilizers.

      Published: August 30, 2016


    • Robson André Armindo and Ole Wendroth
      Physical Soil Structure Evaluation based on Hydraulic Energy Functions

      Qualitative analyses of physical, chemical, or biological variables are difficult and often ambiguous. Soil physical quality (SPQ) indices are not an exception to this rule. There is no unique revealing parameter or index that enables evaluating soil structure. In high-intensity biomass production systems, SPQ indices are useful tools for management decisions because they indicate the sustainability of soil organic matter dynamics, drainage, infiltration, heat transfer, and storage processes. (continued)

      Core Ideas:
      • Five indices and two hydraulic energy cumulative functions are examined to evaluate SPQ.
      • With these indices and functions, it is possible to assess soil structure through spatial and temporal effects.
      • The volumetric water content at field capacity was calculated based on a flux drainage criterion.
      • The script for SWRC fitting parameters and all presented indices is provided.

      Published: September 8, 2016

    • Jiankun Zhao, Tusheng Ren, Qingzhong Zhang, Zhangliu Du and Yiding Wang
      Effects of Biochar Amendment on Soil Thermal Properties in the North China Plain

      Few studies have examined the effects of biochar amendment on soil thermal properties. Soil thermal properties dominate the storage and conduction of heat in soil, affect soil temperature and water and heat movement, and consequently influence plant growth and soil biochemical processes. A 7-yr field experiment was performed to investigate the effects on soil thermal properties of biochar amendment at three application rates: 0 (control), 4.5 t ha−1 yr−1 (B4.5), and 9.0 t ha−1 yr−1 (B9.0). Soil heat capacity (C), thermal conductivity (λ), and thermal diffusivity (α) of the 0- to 5-cm-depth topsoil were determined throughout a corn (Zea mays L.)–wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) growing period using a heat pulse method. (continued)

      Core Ideas:
      • Biochar may change the surface soil heat balance.
      • Biochar significantly decreased soil thermal conductivity and thermal diffusivity.
      • Changes were mainly attributed to soil bulk density and the biochar itself.

      Published: August 30, 2016

    • X. Peng, Z.B. Zhang, L. Gan and S. Yoshida
      Linking Soil Shrinkage Behavior and Cracking in Two Paddy Soils as Affected by Wetting and Drying Cycles

      Soil cracks develop in paddy soils during wetting and drying (WD) cycles. Although changes in soil structure related to cracking have often been described as soil shrinkage, the relationship between soil shrinkage and cracking remains unclear. The objectives of this study were to investigate how WD cycles affect soil shrinkage and cracking and to establish a link between soil shrinkage in the laboratory and cracking in the field. Two paddy fields (one young paddy field and one old paddy field) were subjected to multiple WD cycles during rice growth. (continued)

      Core Ideas:
      • Paddy soil shrinkage behaviors and cracking patterns were significantly influenced by wetting and drying cycles.
      • Wetting and drying (WD) intensity had a greater impact on soil shrinkage than WD frequency and sequence.
      • The crack area can be better predicted by shrinkage curve when considering wetting and drying cycles.
      • The geometry factor is linked to soil shrinkage and cracking.
      • Linking soil shrinkage and cracking

      Published: August 30, 2016

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