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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

DRIFTS band areas as measured pool size proxy to reduce parameter uncertainty in soil organic matter models

Laub, Moritz; Demyan, Michael Scott; Nkwain, Yvonne Funkuin; Blagodatsky, Sergey; Katterer, Thomas; Piepho, Hans-Peter; Cadisch, Georg


Soil organic matter (SOM) turnover models predict changes in SOM due to management and environmental factors. Their initialization remains challenging as partitioning of SOM into different hypothetical pools is intrinsically linked to model assumptions. Diffuse reflectance mid-infrared Fourier transform spectroscopy (DRIFTS) provides information on SOM quality and could yield a measurable pool-partitioning proxy for SOM. This study tested DRIFTS-derived SOM pool partitioning using the Daisy model. The DRIFTS stability index (DSI) of bulk soil samples was defined as the ratio of the area below the aliphatic absorption band (2930 cm(-1)) to the area below the aromatic- carboxylate absorption band (1620 cm(-1)). For pool partitioning, the DSI (2930 cm(-1) / 1620 cm(-1)) was set equal to the ratio of fast-cycling / slow-cycling SOM. Performance was tested by simulating long-term bare fallow plots from the Bad Lauchstadt extreme farmyard manure experiment in Germany (Chernozem, 25 years), the Ultuna continuous soil organic matter field experiment in Sweden (Cambisol, 50 years), and 7 year duration bare fallow plots from the Kraichgau and Swabian Jura regions in southwest Germany (Luvisols). All experiments were at sites that were agricultural fields for centuries before fallow establishment, so classical theory would suggest that a steady state can be assumed for initializing SOM pools. Hence, steady-state and rameter sets that differed in turnover rates and humification efficiency. Initialization using the DSI significantly reduced Daisy model error for total soil organic carbon and microbial carbon in cases where assuming a steady state had poor model performance. This was irrespective of the parameter set, but faster turnover performed better for all sites except for Bad Lauchstadt. These results suggest that soils, although under long-term agricultural use, were not necessarily at a steady state. In a next step, Bayesian-calibration-inferred best-fitting turnover rates for Daisy using the DSI were evaluated for each individual site or for all sites combined. Two approaches significantly reduced parameter uncertainty and equifinality in Bayesian calibrations: (1) adding physicochemical meaning with the DSI (for humification efficiency and slow SOM turnover) and (2) combining all sites (for all parameters). Individual-site-derived turnover rates were strongly site specific. The Bayesian calibration combining all sites suggested a potential for rapid SOM loss with 95 % credibility intervals for the slow SOM pools' halflife being 278 to 1095 years (highest probability density at 426 years). The credibility intervals of this study were consistent with several recently published Bayesian calibrations of similar two-pool SOM models, i.e., with turnover rates being faster than earlier model calibrations suggested; hence they likely underestimated potential SOM losses.


Soil organic matter (SOM); turnover models; management and environmental factors; Diffuse reflectance mid-infrared Fourier transform spectroscopy (DRIFTS)

Published in

2020, volume: 17, number: 6, pages: 1393-1413

Authors' information

Laub, Moritz
Univ Hohenheim
Demyan, Michael Scott
Ohio State Univ
Nkwain, Yvonne Funkuin
Univ Hohenheim
Blagodatsky, Sergey
Russian Acad Sci
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Piepho, Hans-Peter
Univ Hohenheim
Cadisch, Georg
Univ Hohenheim

UKÄ Subject classification

Soil Science

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