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AGGREGATE STABILITY IN RELATION TO ORGANIC CARBON

CONTENT OF EIGHT DIFFERENT SOILS OF BANGLADESH

A dissertation for the partial fulfillment of the requirements for the


Degree of four years Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Soil Science
A Project thesis by
Sharif Sinthia Islam
Roll No: 061331
Session: 2006-2007

Supervised by
Md. Sadiqul Amin
Assistant Professor
Soil Science Discipline
Khulna University

Chairman of Examination Committee


Afroza Begum
Associate Professor and Head
Soil Science Discipline
Khulna University
Khulna-9208, Bangladesh

Soil Science Discipline


Life Science School, Khulna University
Khulna, Bangladesh.
July, 2010

Contents
Title
CHAPTER
3: MATERIALS AND METHODS

Page No.

Acknowledgement
3.1. Sampling
sites
Abstract
3.1.1. Short description of the sampling sites
Contents
3.2. Sample
preparation
CHAPTER
1: INTRODUCTION
List ofAnalysis
Tables
3.3. Laboratory
of Figures
3.3.1. List
Particle
size Analysis
3.3.2. Micro aggregate analysis
CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW
3.3.3. Aggregate stability (NSI)
3.3.4. Soil reaction (pH)
2.1. Aggregate stability
3.3.5. Electric conductivity (EC)
2.2. Forces involved in aggregation
3.3.6. Organic carbon
2.3. Correlation of aggregate stability with potential causal factors
3.3.7. Statistical
2.3.1. Soilanalysis
texture

24
24
25
25
25
25
26-27
28
28
28
28

v
vi
vii
viii
viii
3

3
3
4
4
2.3.2.4:Organic carbon
5
CHAPTER
RESULTS
AND
2.3.3.
Chemical dispersing agents
6
DISCUSSION
2.3.4. Clay mineralogy
6
2.4. Aggregate hierarchy concept
7
4. Results
and
discussion
29
2.5. Different mechanism of aggregate breakdown
9
4.1.
Analyses
of Soil methods
29 9
2.6. General
Aggregate
fractionation
29 10
2.7.4.1.1.
SoilpH
organic carbon
Electrical
conductivity(EC)
29 11
2.8.4.1.2.
Forms
of soil organic
carbon
2.8.1.
4.1.3. Mineral
Organic forms
carbon
30 11
2.8.2.
Elemental
organic
C
4.1.4. Particle size distribution
30 11
2.8.3.
4.1.5. Humus
Micro aggregate analysis
30 11
2.8.4.
organic
residue of plants
4.1.6. Altered
Indices of
aggregation
31 12
2.9. Factors
influencing
organic
carbon
level
in
soil
4.1.6.1. Degree of aggregation (DA)
34 13
2.9.1. Soil
carbon
losses
4.1.6.2.
State
of Aggregation (SA)
35 13
2.9.1.1. Type of plant and animal matter entering soil
13
4.1.7. Normalized stability Index (NSI)
35
2.9.1.2. Climatic conditions
13
4.2. Statistical
analysis
36 14
2.9.1.3.
Management practices
4.3.2.9.2.
Relationship
among
soil properties
36 14
Soil carbon
inputs
2.9.2.1. Environmental which govern plant production
14
1.1
CHAPTER 52.9.2.2.
: SUMMARY
AND practices
CONCLUSION
Management
15
2.10. Stabilization and destabilization of soil organic matter
16
5.1. Summary
Conclusion
37 17
2.11. Soil and
Aggregate
Stability and organic matter
2.11.1. Inorganic binding agents
17
CHAPTER 62.11.1.1.
: REFFERENCES
37-45
Oxides
17
2.11.1.2. Calcium
18
Outline
2.11.2. Soil texture
19
2.12. Functions of soil organic matter and effect on soil properties
19
Aggregate stability is an underpinning factor in questions of soil fertility and
2.13. Aggregate stability time relationship
21-23
environmental problems. Resistance of the aggregate to physical stresses
determines soil sensitivity to crusting and erosion (Le Bissonnais, 1996a),
germination and rooting of cultivated plants (Angers and Caron, 1998) and the
ability of a soil to store carbon through the physical protection of organic
molecules (Jastrow and Miller, 1997). The measurement of soil aggregate stability
is important because it can give general information about soil conditions. The
aggregate stability is the ability of the bonds of the aggregates to resist when

exposed to stresses causing their disintegration (e.g. tillage, swelling and


shrinking processes, kinetic energy of raindrops, etc.)
Factors that influence aggregate stability have been frequently reviewed (Le
Bissonnais, 1996b; Kay, 1998; Bronick and Lal, 2005). Texture, clay mineralogy,
cation content, aluminium and iron oxides, and soil organic matter are the major
soil properties influencing aggregate stability. Soil organic matter (SOM) content
is commonly defined as the percent humus held within a soil.
Organic matter (OM) is a major factor affecting aggregate stability because its
abundance and characteristics can be modified by agricultural practices. In many
cultivation systems, fresh OM is periodically returned to the soil as litter or crop
residues but the amounts and quality of the organic input are variable. This
agricultural practice would appear to be an interesting solution for maintaining
soil fertility and for soil rehabilitation in degraded situations. The whole
functioning of soils is profoundly influenced by SOM, its ability to provide
conditions for plant growth, soil biota functioning, reduction of greenhouse gases,
modification of pollutants and maintenance of soil physical condition. SOM
influences many soil properties, such as water retention capacity, extractable
bases, capacity to supply macro- and micronutrients, aggregate stability and
aeration.
There is a strong relationship between soil carbon content and aggregate size. An
increase in soil carbon content led to a 134-percent increase in aggregates of
more than 2 mm and a 38-percent decrease in aggregates of less than 0.25 mm
(Castro Filho et al., 1998). The active fraction of soil C (Whitbread and Blair et al.,
1998) is the primary factor controlling aggregate breakdown (Bell et al., 1999).
Poor soil structural stability is a serious and increasing problem in several areas
of the world. An appropriate management of organic matter additions to soils
may increase aggregate stability and thus reduce crusting and erosion problems.
Soil organic matter can be:
(1)

Physically

stabilized,

or

protected

from

decomposition,

through

microaggregation, or
(2) Intimate association with silt and clay particles, and
(3) Can be biochemically stabilized through the formation of recalcitrant SOM
compounds.

It has been recognized for a long time that organic matter serves as a
granulating agent in soils. Baver (1935) observed a correlation of 0.559 (with
0.21 being significant) between the percentage of aggregates larger than
0.05mm and the carbon content of a large number of different soils. This
correlation for aggregates larger than 0.1mm was 0.687, which indicates that
organic matter is conducive to the formation of relatively large stable aggregates.
Agricultural management of soil carbon is a recognized means of improving soil
fertility, reducing soil erosion rates, enhancing soil structural stability and
assisting carbon sequestration.
1.2. Objectives
Therefore objectives of this study were to correlate aggregate stability of some
soils of Bangladesh in relation to organic carbon content of the particular soil
types.

Evaluate the ability to form aggregates or aggregate stability in relation to


soil carbon content in different type of soils in Bangladesh.

2. Review of Literature
Organic materials are important soil additives to improve soil physical properties.
This is important to sustain the productivity of soils particularly in semi-arid
regions where there is low input of organic materials. Usage of organic based
materials has gained importance within the last few years for sustainable
agriculture and preventing soil degradation. Soil aggregate formation and
aggregate stability have an important role in crop production and sustainable
agricultural management. Soil aggregate formation has an important role
concerning seedsoil relation, hydraulic conductivity and root respiration, the
diffusion of gases within the soil and plant growth. Furthermore, water-stable
aggregates in soil prevent erosion, which is one of the main factors of soil
degradation (Dinel et al. 1991). Structural soil degradation occurs mostly due to
the decrease in soil organic matter caused by excessive soil cultivation (Grandy
et al. 2002).
2.1 Soil organic carbon
According to Grace et al. (1995), it is generally accepted that soil organic matter,
and principally carbon is the precursor to sustainable soil management. Soil
organic matter (SOM) is as important as a reservoir of nutrients such as nitrogen,
phosphorus and sulphur. It also contributes significantly to the formation and
stabilization of soil structure. Active soil organic matter (ASOM) is the
heterogeneous mix of living and dead organic materials (Wander et al. 1994),
including microbial biomass carbon (MBC), easily oxidisable organic carbon
(EOC), water-soluble organic carbon (WSOC), and water soluble carbohydrates
(WSC) measured as anthrone-reactive carbon. As active fractions are usually
more easily affected than total soil organic carbon (TSOC) by management,
measures of them can be used as early indicators of change in SOM status
(Gregorich et al. 1994; Bremer et al. 1994).
Hodges (1991) points out that soil organic matter is important as energy for soil
organisms, in soil structure and stability, water relations, soil erosion control, soil
warming, availability of plant nutrients, ion exchange, chelation and buffering,
crop growth, and incidence of soil-borne diseases. However, by world standards,
Vagen (2000) suggests that the critical soil organic matter content for agricultural
soils is generally regarded to be between 2 and 4 %. The low inherent level in

surface soils has been exacerbated by up to 39 % of the soil organic carbon


having been lost through erosion and mineralization between 1860 and 1990
(Gifford et al. 2002). These reductions in soil organic matter have led to declining
soil structure, made evident by soil crusting and compaction. The cultivation of
soils for crop production commonly leads to a reduction in soil organic carbon.
Rovira and Greacen (1957) found that through shearing soil aggregates
(analogous to cultivation), the soil particles were exposed to increased microbial
activity, thereby oxidising the soil organic matter. To redress soil organic matter
decline, it is therefore necessary to return plant residues to the soil, minimize
cultivations and preferably include a pasture phase within the cropping rotation
(Rovira et al. 1957).
2.2 Forms of soil organic carbon
When plant residues are returned to the soil, various organic compounds undergo
decomposition. Decomposition is a biological process that includes the physical
breakdown and biochemical transformation of complex organic molecules of dead
material into simpler organic and inorganic molecules (Juma, 1998). Carbon
occurs in soils in 4 forms of mineral and organic matter:
2.2.1 Mineral forms
Soil organic matter has a very complex and heterogeneous composition and is
generally mixed or associated with the mineral soil constituents to form soil
aggregates (Del Galdo et al. 2003). Carbonate mineral forms (chiefly CaCO 3 and
MgCO3. CaCO3). However, highly active and important small amounts also occur
as CO2, HCO3- and CO3- ions of more soluble salts. The Carbonate fraction is also
involved in aggregation, especially soils low in OM (Tisdall and Oades, 1982)
2.2.2 Elemental organic C
Highly condensed, nearly elemental organic C (eg. charcoal, graphite, coal etc.)
occupies a little portion of soil organic carbon.
2.2.3 Humus
Altered

and

rather

resistant

organic

residues

of

plants,

animals

and

microorganisms (sometimes called humus).Largely amorphous and colloidal


mixture of complex organic substances no longer identifiable as tissues. The
humus micelles like the particles of clay , carry a swarm of adsorbed cations
(Ca2+, H+,Mg2+,K+) etc, which are changed with cations from the soil solution. The
water holding capacity of humus on a mass basis four to five times that of silicate

clays. Humus plays a role in aggregate formation and stability. The highly
complex humus molecules contain chemical structures that absorb nearly all
wavelengths of visible light, giving the substances a characteristic of black color
(Bradey and Weil, 2002). The major components of SOM implicated in stabilizing
soil aggregates are humic substances. Several studies have shown that the
humic substances (mostly humic acids) improve aggregate stability (Fortun et al.
1990)
2.2.4 Altered organic residues of plants
Little altered organic residues of plants, animals, and microorganisms (both living
and dead) subject to rather decomposition in soil. The living part of soil organic
matter includes a wide variety of micro-organisms such as bacteria, viruses,
fungi, protozoa and algae. It also includes plant roots, insects, earthworms, and
larger animals such as moles, mice and rabbits that spend part of their life in the
soil. The living portion represents about 5 percent of the total soil organic matter.
Micro-organisms, earthworms and insects help break down crop residues and
manures by ingesting them and mixing them with the minerals in the soil, and in
the process recycling energy and plant nutrients. Sticky substances on the skin of
earthworms and those produced by fungi and bacteria help bind particles
together. Earthworm casts are also more strongly aggregated (bound together)
than the surrounding soil as a result of the mixing of organic matter and soil
mineral material, as well as the intestinal mucus of the worm. Thus, the living
part of the soil is responsible for keeping air and water available, providing plant
nutrients, breaking down pollutants and maintaining the soil structure therefore
aggregate stabilization. Organisms occur wherever organic matter occurs
(Ingham, 2000). Therefore, soil organisms are concentrated around roots, in litter,
on humus, on the surface of soil aggregates and in spaces between aggregates.
Soils containing less than 20% organic matter by weight are classified as mineral
soil and more than 20% organic matter is commonly called organic soil.
Agricultural soils are essentially mineral soils and fertile mineral soils on an
average contain about 5% organic matter (Johnston, 1991).

2.3 Factors influence organic carbon level in soil

Organic carbon influences many soil characteristics including color, nutrient


holding capacity (cation and anion exchange capacity), nutrient turnover and
stability, which in turn influence water relations, aeration and stability. The
amount of carbon in a soil is dependent on the characteristics of the soil and the
balance between inputs and losses. Many factors, such as rainfall, temperature,
vegetation and soil type determine the amount of carbon in soil. Some of these
factors are fixed characteristics of the soil, some are determined by the climate
and some can be influenced by management practices.
2.3.1 Soil carbon losses
Losses of carbon from soil result from decomposition and conversion of carbon in
plant residues and soil organic materials into carbon dioxide. Many factors, such
as rainfall, temperature, vegetation and soil type determine the amount of
carbon in soil.
The rate of loss is determined by:
2.3.1.1 Type of plant and animal matter entering the soil
Plant functional types significantly affected the vertical distribution of SOC. The
percentage of SOC in the top 20 cm (relative to the first meter) averaged 33%,
42%, and 50% for shrublands, grasslands, and forests, respectively. In
shrublands, the amount of SOC in the second and third meters was 77% of that in
the first meter; in forests and grasslands, the totals were 56% and 43%,
respectively. Globally, the relative distribution of SOC with depth had a slightly
stronger association with vegetation than with climate, but the opposite was true
for the absolute amount of SOC (Johnston, 1991).The importance of these
controls switched with depth, climate dominating in shallow layers and clay
content dominating in deeper layers, possibly due to increasing percentages of
slowly cycling SOC fractions at depth. To control for the effects of climate on
vegetation, we grouped soils within climatic ranges and compared distributions
for vegetation types within each range. The percentage of SOC in the top 20 cm
relative to the first meter varied from 29% in cold arid shrublands to 57% in cold
humid forests and, for a given climate, was always deepest in shrublands,
intermediate in grasslands, and shallowest in forests (P < 0.05 in all cases). The
effect of vegetation type was more important than the direct effect of
precipitation in this analysis. These data suggest that shoot/root allocations
combined with vertical root distributions, affect the distribution of SOC with
depth. (Esteban, et.al., 2000).

2.3.1.2 Climatic conditions


Total SOC content increased with precipitation and clay content and decreased
with temperature. Wind erosion and water erosion increase losses of organic
matter. Erosion breaks down soil aggregates, exposing physically protected
organic matter to decomposition and loss. Organic-rich soil from the surface layer
is carried away by runoff or wind. Litter redistribution by wind or water from or to
surrounding rangeland also affects the content of organic matter. (USDA, May
2001)
2.3.1.3 Management practices
Some management practices which reduce carbon inputs or increase the
decomposition of soil organic matter can also influence carbon losses. In the
past, keeping the soil bare was a common cropping practice. Fallowing was
maintained by repeated cultivation for weed control. SOC declines rapidly under
fallowing because of the increased decomposition of organic matter due to the
cultivation operations as well as the higher soil moisture conditions prevailing in
the fallowed soils. Cultivation operations can expose SOC and increase losses by
decomposition and erosion. Historically, excessive cultivation using inappropriate
implements resulted in soils being over-worked, and the consequent loss of SOC
has caused many land degradation problems such as erosion and soil structural
decline. However, it should be noted that some of the yield increasing practices
involve the use of fertilizers and irrigation water which require large energy
consumption and therefore increase carbon dioxide emission. Grazing can
increase the rate of root turnover, but overgrazing reduces the amount of plant
energy available for the growth of new roots. Trampling by livestock can help to
incorporate the plant material above the ground into the soil. In arid ecosystems,
however, little plant material is available for incorporation. Trampling also breaks
up soil aggregates, exposing organic matter to decomposition and loss through
erosion.
2.3.2 Soil carbon inputs
Soil organic carbon inputs are controlled by the type and amount of plant and
animal matter being added to the soil. Any practice that enhances productivity
and the return of plant residues (shoots and roots) to the soil enhance the
amount of carbon in the soil. The majority of carbon enters the soil as plant
residues.
Plant residue, and thus soil carbon inputs are mainly affected by the

Type of plants being grown

Amount of dry matter the plants accumulate over the growing season

2.3.2.1 Environmental factors which govern plant production


Environmental factors interacting over time affect the amount of organic matter
in soil. Rainfall and temperature affect plant productivity and the rate of organic
matter decomposition. Increasing levels of organic matter promote a higher
water holding capacity, which results in increased plant growth and thus an
increased amount of organic matter and plant nutrients. (USDA, NRCS, May
2001). The influence of mean annual precipitation on the annual SOM dynamics
was demonstrated under a commonly used crop rotation with different initial C
content. A sharp annual decrease of SOM takes place for podzoluvisols with initial
C content 2% when precipitation increases from 200 up to 450 mm, while for soils
with a carbon content of 1%, the opposite trend was observed, followed by
equilibrium at RV 350 mm (Sirotenko et al., 2002).
2.3.2.2 Management practices
A variety of management practices can increase soil carbon levels by increasing
inputs. In theory, maximizing productivity also maximizes returns of organic
residues to the soil. In agricultural systems, substantial amounts of plant biomass
remain in the field after harvest (including roots). From a mass balance approach,
an increase in soil C can be achieved either by increasing inputs or decreasing
outputs. Decreased output, or conservation of soil C, is a function of microbial
activity, and physical and chemical protection (Figure 2.1). Disturbance of
aggregates, by natural (freeze-thaw, wet-dry cycles) or anthropogenic (tillage)
forces increases the decomposition of the physically protected organic materials
(Rice and Angle, 2004). Thus, conservation tillage practices are important for
increasing soil C storage and retaining sequestered C. Tillage management
practices effectively use microbial and physical controls to increase the amount
of C that can be stored, or protected, by a soil. Reduced tillage reduces carbon
losses (from both reduced cultivation and reduced fossil fuel usage) and stubble
retention increases carbon inputs to the soil; both of these lead to SOC increase.
Growing cover crops is one of the best practices for improving organic matter
levels and hence, soil quality. Grasses and cereals are most appropriate for this
stage, also because of their intensive rooting system, which improves the soil
structure rapidly. Agro forestry is a collective name for land-use systems where
woody perennials (trees, shrubs, palms, etc.) are integrated in the farming

system (FAO, 1989). Alley cropping is an agro forestry system in which crops are
grown between rows of planted woody shrubs or trees. These are pruned during
the cropping season to provide green manure and to minimize shading of crops
(FAO, 1993). Besides adding organic matter to the system, perennial trees and
shrubs recycle plant nutrients from deeper soil layers through their rooting
system.

Fig
controlling

2.1:

Factors

C conservation in

soil.

2.4 Functions of soil organic matter and effects on soil properties


Organic matter affects both the chemical and physical properties of the soil and
its overall health. Properties influenced by organic matter include: soil structure,
moisture holding capacity, diversity and activity of soil organisms, both those
that are beneficial and harmful to crop production and nutrient availability
(Fig:2.3). It also influences the effects of chemical amendments, fertilizers,
pesticides and herbicides. The interrelationship between SOC and soil structure
and other physical properties has been extensively studied, and excellent reviews
can be found in Tisdall and Oades (1982). It is well established that addition of
SOM can not only reduce bulk density (Db) and increase water holding capacity,
but also effectively increase soil aggregate stability. Angers and Carter (1996)
noted that the amount of water-stable aggregates (WSA) was often associated
with SOC content, and that particularly labile carbon was often positively related
to macro-aggregate stability. Kay and Angers (1999) reported that a minimum of
2% SOC was necessary to maintain structural stability and observed that if SOC
content was between 1.2-1.5%, stability declined rapidly. Haynes (2000) found
that the mean weight diameter (MWD) of aggregates exhibited a curvilinear
increase with carbon content, suggesting an upper limit of influence of SOC (Fig:
2.2). Carter (1992) found that maximum levels for an agronomically designed
aggregation index (AI) were obtained at SOC contents of > 2.5% and at microbial

biomass carbon contents of 250g C/g soil, whereas maximum soil structural
stability (determined by MWD) was found at SOC levels of 4.5%. Carter (1992)
suggested that 2.5% could serve as a critical limit to define minimum
concentrations of SOC required to provide optimum structural stability in fine
sandy loams.

Figure 2.2: Effect of increasing SOC content on aggregate stability, measured by wet-sieving
(MWD, mm), using air-dried () and field moist () samples (modified after Haynes, 2000).

Boix-Fayos et al. (2001) showed that a threshold of 3-3.5% SOC had to be


attained to achieve increases in aggregate stability, no effects on aggregate
stability were observed in soils below this threshold. Fine-textured soils
sequestered more macroaggregateprotected SOC near the soil surface than
Biological functions
-Provides source of energy (essential for biological process)

coarse textured soils,


due
largely
to greater
macroaggregation (Franzluebbers
-Provides
reservoir
of nutrients
(N, P, S)
-Contributes to resilience of soil /plant system

and Arshad, 1996). The stability of larger macro aggregates, in particular, is


to resilience
of soil /plant
system fractions (Tisdall, 1996). These
largely a function -contributes
of active
soil organic
matter

fractions have high turnover rates and are sensitive to management (Wander et
al., 1994). Carter (1992) found that maximum levels for an agronomically
designed aggregation index (AI)
were obtained at SOC contents of > 2.5% and at
Functions of Soil organic matter
microbial biomass carbon contents of 250g C/g soil, whereas maximum soil
structural stability (determined by MWD) was found at SOC levels of 4.5%. Carter
(1992) suggested that 2.5% could serve as a critical limit to define minimum
concentrations of SOC required to provide optimum structural stability in fine
sandy loams.

Physical functions
Chemical functions
-Contribute to the cation exchange capacity
-Improves structural stability of soils at various scales
-Influence water retention properties of soils and thus water holding capacity
-Enhances ability of soils to buffer changes in pH
- Reduce concentrations of toxic cations
-Alter soil thermal properties
- Promote binding of SOM to soil minerals.

Fig 2.3: Functions ascribed to SOM note that interaction occurs between the different soil
functions modified from Badlock and Skjemstad, 1999.

2.5 Stabilization and destabilization of Soil organic matter


Stabilization of a portion of the litter C yields material that resists further
transformation.
Stability of the organic C is viewed as resulting from three general sets of
characteristics. It is widely assumed, for example, that fresh plant detritus is
converted gradually to more stable forms (sometimes termed humus), and that
this stabilization involves a variety of physical, chemical, faunal, and microbial
processes (Ladd et al.,1993).
Recalcitrance comprises molecular-level characteristics of organic substances,
including elemental composition, presence of functional groups, and molecular
conformation, that influence their degradation by microbes and enzymes.
Interactions refers to the inter-molecular interactions between organics and
either inorganic substances or other organic substances, that alter the rate of
degradation of those organics or synthesis of new organics.
Accessibility refers to the location of organic substances as it influences their
access by microbes and enzymes.
Stability is the integrated effect of recalcitrance, interactions, and accessibility.
By definition, it increases with recalcitrance and decreases with accessibility.

Destabilization yields material that is more susceptible to microbial respiration.


Destabilization is the overall process by which soil organic substances become
less resistant to degradation. By definition, it occurs by decreasing recalcitrance
or by increasing accessibility. Decreasing interactions may also promote
destabilization.
2.6 Aggregate stability
Aggregate stability is often used as a measurement of soil structure.

An

aggregate is a group of primary particles that cohere to each other more strongly
than to other surrounding soil particles. Most adjacent particles adhere to some
degree. Stability of aggregates is a function of whether the cohesive forces
between particles withstand the applied disruptive force. However, aggregate
stability is often measured on a specific aggregate size class which is not a
measurement

of

whole

soil

structure.

Furthermore,

aggregate

stability

measurements are an important parameter in determining the resistance of soil


aggregates against environmental factors (Hillel, 1982). Soil structure arises from
the reciprocal arrangement and placement of soil particles and aggregates (lal
and shukla, 2004). It has a major influence on the ability of the soil to receive,
store, and transmit water and to favor C and nutrient cycles, and therefore, it
supports plant growth (kay, 1998).
2.6.1 Forces involved in aggregation
Two of the primary forces holding particles together in aggregates in moist soils
are the surface tension of the air and water interface and the cohesive tension
(negative pressure) in the liquid phase. Briggs (1950) has shown that the
cohesive tension of water can have values up to 26MPa. As a soil dries, the water
phase recedes into capillary wedges surrounding particle-to-particle contacts and
films between closely adjacent platelets. The interfacial tension and internal
cohesive tension pull adjacent particles together with great force as soil dries.
Soluble compound such as silica, carbonates, and organic molecules are
concentrated in the liquid phase as soil dries. Many of these solute molecules and
ions thus precipitate as inorganic semicrystallaine compounds or amorphous
organic compounds around these particle-to-particle contacts, cementing them.
Soil aggregation may be determined by the mean weight diameter (MWD), the
geometric mean diameter (GMD) and the normalized stability index (NSI), which
is obtained by breaking the soil into aggregate classes by the wet sieving method
(Kemper and Chepil, 1965).

2.6.2 Correlation of aggregate stability with potential causal factors


2.6.2.1 Soil texture
The more clay present in the soil, the more likely the soil is to form aggregates
(clays carry an electric charge and can stick together). However, the clay is also
the part of the soil that disperses if aggregate stability is poor. In generally
considered that as the silt (0.002-0.05mm) or silt + very fine sand (0.05-0.10
mm) fraction increases and clay decreases in consequences aggregate stability
decreases erodibility increases. This is because of
1) The aggregation and bonding effect of clay
2) The transportability of fine and non aggregated particles (i.e. silt)
3) The detachability of sand and silt
According to Edwards and Bremner (1967), the only highly stable aggregates are
fine sand- and silt-sized microaggregates (<250_m) consisting of claypolyvalent
metalorganic matter complexes. Microaggregates are formed by bonding of CP
OM clay sized units, where C clay particle, P polyvalent metal (Fe, Al, Ca) and OM
organo-metal complex, and are represented as [(CPOM). It is evident that the
CPOM units are equivalent to the clay domains of Emerson. However, Edwards
and Bremner (1967) envisioned CPC and OMPOM units too. They also
postulated that the organic matter complexed into the microaggregates would be
inaccessible to microorganisms and physically protected. In the aggregate
hierarchy concept it is postulated that the different binding agents (i.e. transient
versus temporary versus persistent binding agents) act at different hierarchical
stages of aggregation. Free primary particles and silt-sized aggregates (<20_m)
are bound together into microaggregates (20250_m) by persistent binding
agents (i.e. humified organic matter and polyvalent metal cation complexes),
oxides and highly disordered aluminosilicates.
2.6.2.2 Organic carbon
Aggregation generally increases with increasing soil organic matter, which is
connected to clay surfaces through positively charged polyvalent cat ions, thus
overcoming the repulsion between the negative charges of both clay and organic
matter (Edwards and Bremner, 1967). In this process, not only the amount of clay
but also the clay type is important (Kay, 1998), because mineralogical species
differ

in

surface

charge.

Isomorphic

substitutions,

resulting

in

negative

permanent charges, prevail in layer silicates, whereas pH-dependent charges

form on surface hydroxyls and dominate in the case of oxides and hydroxides.
The latter clays are present in the soil with a wide range of crystallinity, and their
effect on aggregation varies. Amorphous iron oxides (Feo) are the most effective
because they not only carry positive charges but also block the negatively
charged sites on layer silicates (Shao and Wang, 1991). The soil colloidal fraction
is thus characterized by a total charge, resulting from the complex interactions
among all the components. Igwe and Nwokocha (2006) investigated the role of
SOC in the restoration of soil fertility and stability of soil micro-aggregates, which
is of special importance in soils that degrade rapidly. They reported that soils
were coarse-textured, deep and low in soil nutrients and SOC, probably due to
high mineralization rates. Micro-aggregate-associated SOC was also low with
most of the SOC protected by the <63 mm fractions. Principal component
analysis revealed that SOC fractions associated with 200063 mm aggregate
sizes were the SOC fractions that best explained the variance in aggregated silt +
clay, indicating their contribution to microaggregate stability. This was attributed
to the production of polysaccharides and materials released by microbial
activities from this recently deposited or incompletely decomposed SOC.
2.6.2.3 Chemical dispersing agent
The di-valent and trivalent cations, such as Ca 2+ and Al3+, are tightly adsorbed
and can effectively neutralize the negative surface charge on clay particles;
these cations can also form bridges that bring clay particles close together.
Monovalent ions, especially Na+, with relatively large hydrated raddi, can cause
clay particle to repel and each other and create a dispersed condition. Two things
contribute to the dispersion
1) The large hydrated sodium ion does not get close enough to the clay to
effectively neutralize the negative charges, and
2) The single charge on sodium is not effective in forming a bridge between
clay particles.
Calcium ions associated with clay generally promote aggregation, whereas
sodium ions promote dispersion. Exchangeable sodium - can cause very poor
aggregate stability. Soils with a high percentage of exchangeable sodium are very
likely to disperse and need to be managed carefully.
Fe-oxide rich soils (e.g., many Oxisols) and allophanic soils are among the most
stably micro-aggregated (El-Swaify, 1980;). This is generally interpreted as
evidence that oxides and hydroxides of Al and Fe, as well as amorphous

aluminosilicates, are important in aggregation. Evidence for the importance of


various materials as binding agents comes from studies of disaggregation upon
exposure to chemical extractants (e.g., Bartoli and Philippy, 1990; Wierzchos et
al., 1992) correlation of aggregate stability with soil properties (Molope et al.,
1985), and addition of binding agents to soil.
2.6.2.4 Clay mineralogy
Clay mineralogy influences aggregate stability but the effect is difficult to asses
because soils most often contain a mixture of clay minerals. Using pure clay
minerals Emerson(1964) showed that swelling clays like montmorillonite are less
subject to slaking than kaolinite or illite because the pressure which is developed
by entrapped air is released by swelling ; however ,fissuring of montmorillonite
may occur, due to the combination of stress of entrapped air and swelling of
aggregates. As aggregating particles, the smectiteic clays should be more
efficient than other clays because of their large specific surface and high
physiochemical interaction capacity .In accordance with this statement, Young
and Mutchler (1977) found that montmorillonite was highly correlated with
aggregate stability. The effects of clay and organic-matter content can be seen in
Fig.2. The soil highest in clay content had the highest aggregate stability at all
water contents and constrainment levels. Mostaghimi et al. (1988) predicted that
aggregate stability would increase with clay content. More clay implies more or
stronger clay bridges between soil particles. This suspected high degree of
bridging was apparently little affected by water content or constrainment in
(Fig.2.4)

Fig. 2.4.Aggregate stability as a function of water content for both constrained and
unconstrained samples of each soil.

2.6.2.5 Porosity

Elliott and Coleman (1988) adopted the concept of microaggregate formation


within macroaggregates from Oades (1984) and ascribed this microaggregate
formation to the anaerobic and resulting reducing conditions in the center of the
macroaggregates. They also described, as a mirror image of the aggregate
hierarchy, four hierarchical pore categories in (Fig: 2.5)
(1) Macropores;
(2) Pore space between macroaggregates;
(3) Pores between microaggregates but within macroaggregates; and
(4) Pores within micro aggregates.
The concept of aggregation as a process involving different organic binding
agents at different scales was pioneered by Tisdall and Oades (1982) and based
on their work, Oades and Waters (1991) introduced the concept of aggregate
hierarchy. Large aggregates (>2000m) were hypothesized to be held together
by a fine network of roots and hyphae in soils with high SOC content (>2%), while
20-250m aggregates consist of 2-20m particles, bonded together by various
organic and inorganic cements. Water stable aggregates of 2-20m size, in turn,
consist of <2m particles, which are an association of living and dead bacterial
cells and clay particles. The concept aggregate hierarchy degradation of large
(relatively unstable) aggregates creates smaller, more stable aggregates.
Stabilization of macro-aggregates occurs mainly via binding by fungal hyphae
and roots.

Fig.2.5. The opposing chronology of the formation of the hierarchical aggregate


orders

2.7 Different mechanisms of aggregate breakdown


Aggregate

breakdown

can

result

from

several

physico-chemical-physical

mechanisms. Le Bissonnais (1996a) reviewed four main mechanisms of


breakdown (i) Slaking; (ii) Differential swelling; (iii) Raindrop impact and (iv)
Physico-chemical dispersion due to osmotic stress stress.

Swelling causes the volume of the aggregate to increase, and is often followed
by the soil slaking.
Slaking is when the air-dried aggregate breaks into smaller aggregates when
immersed in water. This indicates that the aggregates are not strong enough to
withstand the pressures involved in wetting. Some soils are strong enough to
withstand this pressure, and increasing the organic matter content of the soil
may increase aggregate stability. Slaked soils can also disperse.
Dispersion is caused by breakdown of the clay aggregate into individual clay
particles.
Ashman et al. (2003) reviewed two of the most commonly used aggregate
fractionation methods: The slaking method is commonly used to simulate wetting
stresses in the field and the shaking method to simulate mechanical disruption
followed by wet sieving. Slaking refers to the disintegration of large aggregates
(2-5mm

diameter)

into

finer

aggregates

when

placed

in

water.

Rapid

disintegration is believed to be due to a lack of organic bonding between


particles. They found that slaking resulted in macro-aggregates being enriched in
SOC and, after incubation to measure microbiologically-available carbon, showed
a faster respiration rate than in shaken treatments. Here, micro-aggregates
(<250m) had more soil SOC and faster respiration rate. While the general
concept of aggregate hierarchy (depending on the size of aggregates, different
organic binding agents are active in aggregate stabilisation) (Oades, 1991) is
generally accepted, when reviewing the literature there are often different and
conflicting results, depending on the kind of fractionation scheme used (Ashman
et al., 2003). The different results suggest that chemical and biological properties
of aggregates depend on the fractionation scheme used. Accordingly, observed
relationships can only be interpreted with respect to the specific disruptive
mechanism used and aggregate size can only be related to energy inputs. The
results from fractionation schemes therefore provide information with regard to
the resistance of soil to disruption, which is different from information about the
true structure of the soil (Fig. 2.6).

Figure 2.6: Influence of fractionation procedures on biological and chemical properties of different
aggregate sizes (Ashman et al., 2003).

2.8 Soil aggregate stability and Organic matter


Soil aggregate stability was highly correlated with soil organic matter content but
the addition of crop residues and manure were not alone sufficient to restore soil
physical quality. Organic byproducts proceeding from industrial processes
represent an important source of nutrients, especially for organic fertilization.
Aggregation generally increases with increasing soil organic matter, which is
connected to clay surfaces through positively charged polyvalent cations, thus
overcoming the repulsion between the negative charges of both clay and organic
matter (Edwards and Bremner, 1967). In this process, not only the amount of clay
but also the clay type is important (Kay, 1998), because mineralogical species
differ

in

surface

charge.

Isomorphic

substitutions,

resulting

in

negative

permanent charges, prevail in layer silicates, whereas pH-dependent charges


form on surface hydroxyls and dominate in the case of oxides and hydroxides.
Organic matter is known to stabilise aggregates by at least two different
mechanisms:
(i)

by increasing the inter-particle cohesion within aggregates and thus


decreasing their breakdown to the four above-mentioned breakdown
mechanisms and

(ii)

by increasing their hydrophobicity and thus decreasing their breakdown


by slaking.

Kay and Angers (1999) and Greenland et al. (1975) observed relationships
between SOC content and aggregate stability. Using the Emerson crumb test,
Greenland et al. (1975) found that at SOC <2%, soil aggregates were considered
unstable, moderately stable at 2-2.5% and very stable at SOC contents >2.5%.

Carter (1992) also found that maximum structural stability was obtained at 4.5%
SOC.
2.8.1 Inorganic binding agents
2.8.1.1 Oxides
The aggregating and SOM stabilizing effect of oxides has been emphasized in
many studies. The aggregating effect of oxides is mainly at the microaggregate
level (Oades et al., 1989) but also macroaggregation has been related to oxide
content (Imhoff et al., 2002). Shang and Tiessen 1998) reported that the
stabilization of C in tropical soils is highest in stable microaggregates consisting
of oxides, soil organic matter and minerals. Oxides can act as binding agents in
three ways
(1) Organic materials adsorb on oxide surfaces (Oades et al., 1989);
(2) An electrostatic binding occurs between the positively charged oxides and
negatively charged clay minerals (El-Swaify and Emerson, 1975); and
(3) A coat of oxides on the surface of minerals forms bridges between primary
and secondary particles (Muggler et al., 1999).
In a kaolinitic soil, this binding of oxides to minerals will reduce the cation
exchange capacity of the kaolinite and increases the positive charge property of
the kaolinite, further promoting the aggregation through electrostatic binding
(Dixon, 1989).
2.8.1.2. Calcium
It is generally accepted that calcium is a critical element for the stabilization of
SOM and aggregates through its role in the formation claypolyvalent cation
organic matter complexes (Clough and Skjemstad, 2000). Because calcium exerts
its influence at the scale of the organo-mineral complexation, its stabilization
effect is mostly observed at the microaggregate level, but it can also indirectly
increase macroaggregation through a stimulation of microbial activity in acidic
soils (Chan and Heenan, 1999). Additions of calcium to field soils, in the form of
lime or gypsum, increased (10%) the aggregation level (Chan and Heenan,
1998, 1999). However, an initial temporary decrease (13%) in aggregate
stability has been observed upon the application of lime to variable charged soils.
This temporal decrease in aggregation has been related to an increase in soil pH
(Roth and Pavan, 1991) and microbial activity (Chan and Heenan, 1998, 1999)
upon lime application to these acidic soils. An increase in pH of a variable charge
soil leads to an increase of negative charges (Roth and Pavan, 1991), resulting in
a dominance of repulsive forces over edge-to-face flocculation of kaolinite or

oxidekaolinite coagulation. The dominance of repulsive forces causes dispersion.


Nevertheless, this decrease in aggregation seems to be reversed in the longerterm (Roth and Pavan, 1991; Chan and Heenan, 1998) and is more pronounced if
the calcium is added together with an organic matter source (such as wheat
straw) (Baldock et al., 1994). The latter suggests that the process of calcium
bridging is the dominant factor for the long-term positive effect of calcium
addition on the structural stability of a soil.
2.8.2 Soil texture
Soil organic matter tends to increase as the clay content increases. This increase
depends on two mechanisms. First, bonds between the surface of clay particles
and organic matter retard the decomposition process. Second, soils with higher
clay content increase the potential for aggregate formation. Macroaggregates
physically protect organic matter molecules from further mineralization caused
by microbial attack (Rice, 2002). For example, when earthworm casts and the
large soil particles they contain are split by the joint action of several factors
(climate, plant growth and other organisms), nutrients are released and made
available to other components of soil micro-organisms. Under similar climate
conditions, the organic matter content in fine textured (clayey) soils is two to four
times that of coarse textured (sandy) soils (Prasad and Power, 1997). Kaolinite,
the main clay mineral in many upland soils in the tropics, has a much smaller
specific surface and nutrient exchange capacity than most other clay minerals.
Therefore,
kaolinitic soils contain considerably fewer clay-humus complexes. In addition, the
unprotected labile humic substances are vulnerable to decomposition under
appropriate soil moisture conditions. Thus, high levels of organic matter are
difficult to maintain in cultivated kaolinitic soils in the wet-dry tropics, because
climate and soil conditions favour rapid decomposition. In contrast, organic
matter can persist as organo-oxide complexes in soils rich in iron and aluminium
oxides. Such properties favour the formation of soil microaggregates, typical of
many fine-textured, oxide-rich, high base-status soils in the tropics (Uehara and
Gilman, 1981). These soils are known for their low bulk density, high
microporosity, and high organic-matter retention under natural vegetation, but
also for their high phosphate fixation capacity on the oxides when used for crop
production. Current knowledge suggests that whereas organic matter contributes
to the dark colour of Vertisols, it is not considered important in determining either
the development, robustness or resilience of structure in these soils. Organic

matter levels tend to be low in Vertisols, even as low as 10 g/ kg (Coulombe et.al,


1996).
2.9 Effects of aggregation on OM stability
Aggregation can influence accessibility of substrate to microbes and fauna and
rates of diffusion of reactants and products of extracellular synthesis reactions.
Theoretical calculations suggest that aggregation should limit access to organic
matter. Direct evidence for effects of aggregation on accessibility is limited. Adu
and Oades (1978) produced synthetic aggregates that were labelled uniformly
with 14C substrates. Aggregates of a sandy loam soil respired less starch than did
unaggregated soil, which they took as evidence of the presence of inaccessible
micropores in the aggregates. This pattern was not observed for a clayey soil, or
when the substrate was glucose. Bartlett and Doner (1988) incorporated lysine
and leucine either homogeneously throughout sterilized synthetic aggregates or
only on their surfaces. After adding inoculum, more of the amino acid was
respired from aggregate surfaces than from within aggregates indicating delay in
microbial access to substrate within the aggregates.
2.10 Aggregate Stability-Time Relationship
Organic matter- soil aggregation relationships involve dynamic processes.
Aggregate stability is continually changing as organic matter is added and
decomposed. The cementing agents that are formed stabilize granules and are
then decomposed to make the aggregates less stable. The changes in aggregate
stability with time after incorporation of organic matter are summarized by the
curves of Monnier (1965) in Figure (2.6).Stability has been based upon
differences in aggregate breakdown in water, alcohol, and benzene. The peak of
the curve represents the aggregation brought about by microbial bodies in the
soil. The major impact during this period of intense biological activity apparently
is a mechanical binding action.

Fig

2.6:

Monniers

conceptual

model.

Aggregate

stability

dynamics are illustrated


after additions of three
organic

inputs

(green

manure buried straw and


decomposed manure) and
in

relation to the dynamics

of

aggregative
(microbial

factors
corpses,

prehumic substances and


humic

substances).

Monnier identified three


periods (shown as zones
A, B and C) during which the major aggregative processes occur .

These curves emphasize the necessity for replenishing organic matter in soils to
maintain stable granulation. Stabilization of the aggregates formed results from
the transitory products of microbial metabolism and the final stable humus that is
produced. This soil quality, the agronomical structure, i.e. the particle size
distribution of soil, and the resistance of aggregates against water and tillage;
determines its fertility and productivity. This property is might be characterized
by the stability of these soil structural units against disrupting effects (Six et al.,
2000). Soil aggregates could be disrupted by several effects, for example slaking
in water i.e. because of too intense wetting during irrigation (Emerson, 1977).
Wetting, in general, disrupts aggregates because of the effect of entrapped air in
the pores (i.e., slaking), as well as causing clay swelling and dispersion. During
drying, clay particles may form bridges and coatings on larger grains (Singer et
al., 1992; Attou et al., 1998), leading to a closer contact between particles and
increasing the solid phase cohesion (Kemper and Rosenau, 1984). The
flocculation and cementation of mineral particles into secondary units with
organic and inorganic substances are the main soil aggregation processes (Duiker
et al., 2003), producing aggregates of a variety of sizes. On the other hand,
rewetting may break large aggregates into smaller ones, offsetting the stabilizing
effect of drying.
Poor aggregate stability can result in:

Hard setting soils

Soil crusting impeding water movement and seedling emergence

Limited water holding capacity

Compaction due to structure collapse

Water logging

3. Materials and methods


A study was conducted to evaluate the physical and chemical properties of soil of
different characteristics and its stability in relation to soil organic carbon content.
A general description of the methods of analysis is described in this chapter.
3.1 Sampling sites
3.1.1 Short Description of sampling sites
Soil samples were collected from different location of Bangladesh (Bagherhat,
Dumuria, Pirojpur sadar, Kmalgonj sylhet, Tala and Batiaghata upazilla).
Physiography, landuse and general information of sampling sites as well as
sample are presented (Table: 3.1):
Table 3.1: Description of sampling site
Sample
no

Soil
series

Bajoa

Bajoa

Physiography

Drainage

Land use

Well
drained

Fallow-Fallow-T.aman

Well
drained

T. aman-Fallow

Jhalkathi

Poor

T. aus-T. aman-Fallow

Dumuria

Imperfect

T.aman-Fallow

Garuri

Sara

Ganges Tidal floodplain

Ganges meander

Poor

Jute-T.aman-Robi

Imperfect

Aus-Robi crops

floodplain
7

Harta

Peat basin

Poor

Mixed aus-B.amanFallow

Shrimang
al

Well
Late Pleistocene

Shrimang
al

piedmont

Tea

drained
Well
drained

Tea

3.2 Sample preparation


The collected soil samples were processed in the laboratory. All the samples were
opened in laboratory and air dried. Soil samples were dry sieved by hand to
collect aggregate size classs one size class at a time rather than using a rotary
sieve shaker with stacked sieves( Fig:3). Collecting each size class individually
allows for each size class to be wet sieved or analyzed individually.

Fig

3:

The
material which passed through the screen is transferred from the brown paper
onto the next smallest screen (i), Aggregates collected on top of the screen are
transferred into plastic bags, tubes, or jars for storage (ii).
3.3 Laboratory analysis
3.3.1 Particle size analysis
The particle size analysis of the soils was carried out by combination of sieving
and hydrometer method as described by Gee and Bauder (1986). Textural classes
were determined using Marshalls Triangular Coordinator system.
3.3.2 Microaggregate analysis
Soil structure was evaluated by microaggregate analysis of the soils following the
method Kachinskii (1965) with the exception that hydrometer was used to
determine the particle size distribution instead of pipette method. The state of
aggregation and dispersion factor were calculated by the using the following
equations (Baver and Rhoades, 1932)
State of aggregation =
Dispersion factor =

ab

x
100
y

Where a = percentage of aggregates larger than a specified size in micro


aggregate analysis, b = percentage of particles larger than a specified size in
particle size analysis, x = percentage of clay in micro aggregate analysis and y =
percentage of clay in particle size analysis.

3.3.3 Aggregate stability


The stability of aggregates was determined by the method as described by Six et
al., (2000a). For the determination of aggregate stability, soil samples were air
dried and crushed by a wooden mallet. The crushed soils were then sieved
through 8 mm sieve. The air dried soils that were passed through 8 mm sieve but
retained on 2 mm sieve divided into 8-2 mm, 2-0.25 mm and 0.25-0.05 mm size
fractions by using mechanical shaker. For wet sieving with slaking pretreatment
10 grams of air dry samples from each aggregate size fraction were submerged
for 5 minutes on the top of smaller sieve of each size range prior to sieving. Soils
were separated manually by moving the sieve 3 cm up and down under water
with 50 repetitions during a period of 2 minutes. This manual separation
technique was repeated for each size fractions. For wet sieving with wetted
pretreatment the air dry samples were adjusted to field capacity by soaking with
water for overnight before submerging in water. The soils were then sieved for 2
minutes by the method as stated before. The amount of aggregates retained
after sieving was oven dried at 1050C for 24 hours and then weighed. The
amount of primary particles retained on the sieves during wet sieving was
determined

by

sieving

after

dispersing

the

soils

with

5%

sodium

hexametaphospahte. The weight of primary particles was recorded after oven


drying at 1050C for 24 hours.
The normalized stability index (NSI) of aggregates was calculated by the following
formula (Six et al., 2000a).
NSI = 1- [DL/DL (max)]
The whole soil disruption level (DL) was calculated as:
n

DL = 1 n

[(n 1) i]
i

DLSi

Where n = number of aggregate size classes. i = 1 for the smallest size class.
The disruption level of a size class upon slaking (DLSi) was calculated by the
following formula:
{( Pio S io ) ( Pi S i )}

( Pio S io ) ( Pi S i )
2
DLSi =

1
Pio S io

where DLSi = disruption level for each size class i; Pio = proportion of total
sample weight in size class i before disruption (i.e., rewetted); Pi = proportion of
total sample weight in size class i after disruption (i.e., slaked); Sio = proportion
of sand with size i in aggregates of size i (= aggregate-sized sand) before
disruption; Si = proportion of sand with size i in aggregates of size i after
disruption.
The whole soil DL (max) was calculated by the following formula:
n

DL (max) = 1 n

[(n 1) i]
i

DLSi (max)

The maximum disruption [DLSi (max)] was calculated with the following formula:

( P

io

Pp ) ( Pio Pp )

DLSi (max) =

1
Pio S io

Pp = primary sand particle content with the same size as the aggregates size
class after complete disruption of the whole soil.
3.3.4

Soil reaction (pH)

Soil pH (1:2.5) was determined electrochemically with the help of glass electrode
pH meter as suggested by Jackson (1973).
3.3.5 Electrical conductivity (EC)
The electrical conductivity of the soil was measured at a soil: water ratio of 1:5 by
an EC meter as described by USSL staff (1954).
3.3.6 Organic carbon
Soil organic carbon was determined by wet oxidation method of Walkley and
Blacks method as described by Piper (1950) and Jackson (1973).
3.3.7 Statistical analysis
Organic carbon content with respect to aggregate stability and soil properties
were analyzed using MINITAB basic statistics.
4. Result and discussion
4.1. General Analyses of Soil
4.1.1 Soil reaction (pH)
pH of Bajoa series varied from 6.79-7.64 (Table 4.1). Jhalkathi series was
calcareous and pH value was 7.89. Harta and Tea soils were non calcareous. pH

of Harta series and Shrimangal soil series was 5.18 and 5.19-5.72, respectively.
Sara soil series demonstrate alkaline characteristics (8.04).
4.1.2 Electrical conductivity (EC)
The EC values of soil sample were shown in (Table-4.1). Most soils shows slightly
saline to moderately saline behavior. Harta soil series was highly saline and EC
ranged from 4.25-17.11 dS/m. EC of Sara, jhalakathi, and Bajoa soil series were
4.75 dS/m, 2.04-4.75dS/m and 1.45-2.11 dS/m respectively. The EC value of Tea
soil was in the range of non- saline (0.78 to 1.45) ds/m.
Table-4.1: properties of soil series
Sampl
e no
1
2
3
4
5

Soil
Series

%OC

pH

EC
(ds/m)

%
Sand

%Silt

%
Clay

Texture

Bajoa

1.68

7.64

2.11

9.00

55.0
0

36.00

Silty Clay
Loam

Bajoa

1.40

6.79

1.45

4.00

47.0
0

49.00

Silty Clay

Jhalkathi

1.42

7.89

4.75

4.00

58.0
0

38.00

Silty Clay
loam

Dumuria

2.11

7.9
7

7.40

5.00

43.0
0

52.00

Garuri

1.23

7.7
7

0.78

5.00

61.0
0

34.00

Silty Clay
Silty Clay
loam

Sara

0.96

8.04

4.75

30.00

31.0
0

39.00

Clay Loam

Harta

5.37

5.18

17.11

4.00

47.0
0

49.00

Silt loam

Shrimang
al

0.88

5.19

0.78

60.00

18.0
0

22.00

Sandy Clay
Loam

Shrimang
al

1.03

5.72

1.45

60.00

19.0
0

21.00

Sandy Clay
Loam

6
7

4.1.3 Organic carbon


Organic carbon content was highest in Dumuria and Harta soil series and it was
2.11% and 5.37% respectively. Harta soil series contain highest amount of
organic carbon as it was peat soil. The soil organic carbon content of Sara,
Jhalakati and Bajoa soil series were 0.96%, 1.42%, and 1.40-1.68%, respectively.
Shrimangal soil series contain (1.03 to.88%). Results of organic carbon content in
soil sample shown on Table-4.1.
Rahman (1990) reported that organic matter content from 0.3 to 1.5% in upland
soils, 1.5 to 2.0% in the medium low land areas and 2.0 to 3.5% in the low land
areas in bill areas, this fraction was about 4%.The correlation analysis has been
used to relate the aggregate stability with the organic matter. Organic matter

content was higher in fine textured soil (Table-4.1). Cook (1962) reported that
fine textured soils contain roughly

twice as much total organic matter as do

sandy soils in the same region.


4.1.4 Particle size distribution
The term particle size distribution of a soil refers to the percentage distribution of
various sized particles in a given volume of soils. Particle size distribution is one
of the most stable soil characteristics, being little modified cultivation or other
practices. Although the usefulness of particle size analysis in practical agriculture
has sometimes questioned, its indirect benefits have been extensive. It has been
used to understand weathering and profile development and determines the
permeability, water retention, aeration, cation exchange capacity, workability and
erodibility (water and wind).
Soil texture refers to the relative proportion of sand, silt and clay. Soil texture
detects the physical, chemical and biological properties of soils. Textural classes
of the soils are presented in (Table-4.1).In the Sara soil series sand percentage
varied from 30-62.00%. The silt and clay percentage of Sara series varied from 331% and 35-39%, respectively (Table- 4.1). The variation of primary particles
along the depth was irregular, which is a characteristic of floodplain soils and
depended on the irregularity in time and kind of deposition. However, the textural
class was clay loam.
The Bajoa soil series exhibited similar textural variation as Sara series. The
percentage of sand, silt and clay in Bajoa series were 9.00-25.00%, 3.00-55.00%
and 36.00-67.00%, respectively. The textural class of Bajoa soil series was silty
clay.

In Jhalakati series the percentage of sand, silt and clay along the depth

were 4-33%, 3.00-58% and 38-64.00%, correspondingly. As the silt fraction and
clay is dominated so the textural classes was silty clay loam.
In Harta soil series the percentage of sand, silt and clay was 4.00-62.00%, 584.00% and 12.00-33.00% respectively and define textural class was silt loam as
because of silt fraction is predominant.
SRDI (1977) reported that percentage sand, silt and clay in Bajoa, and Sara series
were 0.5-4.2%, 51.2-66.6% and 32.6-47.9%; and 10.3-21.5%, 64.7-75.4% and
7.6-16.4%, respectively.
The percentage of sand,silt and clay of Dumuria and Garuri series was 5.0018.00%,3-43.00%, 52.00-79% and 5.00-42.00%, 34.00%-54.00% respectively.
Textural class of these two soil was silty clay and silty clay loam. In Shrimangal

soil series the percentage of sand, silt and clay was 60.00-67.00%, 5.00-18.00%
and 22.00-28.00% respectively and the textural classes was sandy clay loam.
4.1.5 Micro aggregate analysis
Micro aggregate composition of soils is one of the most important indexes of soil
structure. Results of micro aggregate analysis are regarded to be essential for
agronomic characterization of the soils. Micro aggregate analysis of a soil
together with its particle size analysis gives an idea about the degree of
dispersion of the soil under natural condition and its potential capacity for
structural formulation. Kachinskii (1965) stated that micro aggregates having
0.25-0.05 mm and 0.05-0.01 mm diameter are most valuable from agronomic
point of view. If micro aggregates increase water holding capacity and improve
air and water permeability of soils.
A plot of the summation percentage against the corresponding particle size for
particle size analysis and microaggregate analysis on a semi-logarithmic graph
paper give an idea of the state of micro aggregation of the soil (Fig: 4.2). The
higher the area between the two curves the higher the state of micro aggregation
of the soil. The state of aggregation, degree of aggregation and dispersion factor
of soil varies comparatively. The highest state of aggregation found in Harta soil
series, at this sample degree of aggregation and dispersion factor were 0.60%
and 275 Shrimongol soil series shown lower state of aggregation as well as lower
dispersion factor 47.62%, respectively.
Table-4.2: Structural Indices of soil
Structural Indices

Soil Series
State of Aggregation

Degree of Aggregation

Dispersion Factor

Bajoa

21

0.23

186.11

Jhalkathi

29

0.30

168.42

Dumuria

13

0.14

151.92

Garuri

37

0.39

158.82

Harta

58

0.60

275.00

Sara

32

0.46

89.74

Bajoa

21

0.22

146.94

Shrimangal

0.18

127.27

Shrimangal

15

0.38

47.62

From graph value it being interpreted for Bajoa soil series (Fig:4.2), state of
aggregation is greater as because of the higher the area between the two curves
indicates the higher the state of micro aggregation of the soil.
Harta soil series shows higher state of aggregation than any other soil as because
of it comprises the maximum area deviate from the two curves. Harta soil also
contain highest amount of organic

carbon (5.37%) which

enhance the

stabilization of soil. Sara and Dumuria soil series shows lower state of
aggregation and higher dispersion factor (Fig: 4.2).
Jhalakati soil series exhibit higher state of aggregation similar to Bajoa soil series
(Fig: 4.2).
Lowest state of aggregation was found in Shrimangal soil series (Fig4.2).
Distance between the two curves was sparse in contrast to other soil series
curves. Organic matter content of this soil sample was also little (0.88%).
4.1.6 Indices of aggregation
4.1.6.1 Degree of aggregation (DA)
The highest value of DA was found 0.60% (Table-4.2) for Harta soil series and
the lowest value was 0.14% for dumuria soil series respectively. In sandy clay
loam soil highest value was found for shrimangal soil series and lowest value for
Dumuria soil series that was silty clay in texture (Table-4.1).Degree of
aggregation for Sara, Bajoa and Jhalakati was 0.46%, 0.23% and 0.30%
respectively (Table-4.2) .Textural class of Sara was Clay loam, Bajoa and
jhalakati was silty clay loam correspondingly.
4.1.6.2 State of aggregation (SA)
The highest value of SA was found for Harta soil series 58% in silt loam soil,
organic carbon % was (5.37). In sandy clay loam texture the lowest value was 7%
for shrimanmgal soil series. In silty clay loam soil the highest value was 37% for
Garuri soil series and lowest value was 21% for Bajoa soil series (Table-4.2). State

of aggregation for clay loam soil was 32% for sara soil series. In silty clay soil the
lowest value of SA was 13% for Dumuria soil series. State of aggregation for
jhalakati soil was 29% that was silty clay loam in texture (Table-4.1).
4.1.6.3 Dispersion factor
4.1.7 Normalized stability index (NSI)
The highest NSI value was estimated 1.01 for Garuri soil series and the lowest
value was estimated 0.38 for Bajoa soil series silty clay loam in texture (Fig: 4.1).
In sandy clay loam soil the highest value was 0.91 for shrimangal soil series. In
silty clay soil NSI value was 0.82 for Dumuria soil series and 0.79 for jhalakati soil
series that was silty clay loam in textural class (Table-4.1). In clay loam soil
highest NSI value was 0.75 for sara soil series.

NSI vs % OC
6.00
5.00
4.00
3.00
%OC 2.00
1.00
0.00

% OC
NSI
Soil series

soil series and NSI

Fig4.1: Relation between aggregate stability and %organic carbon of


nine soil series
4.2 Statistical analysis
Statistical analyses were performed using MINITAB basic statistics (Table-4.3).
Correlations were determined by the Pearsons correlation factor (Table-4.4)
Table- 4.3: Descriptive Statistics

Variable

Mea
n

Media
n

St.
Dev

Minimu
m

% OC

1.51

1.40

0.66

0.88

2.96

pH

7.01

7.64

1.09

5.18

8.04

EC ds/m

4.51

2.11

5.24

0.78

17.11

NSI

0.73

0.79

0.21

0.38

1.01

%Sand

20.11

5.00

24.08

4.00

60.00

%Silt

46.22

47.00

21.34

18.00

84.00

%Clay

33.67

36.00

13.18

12.00

52.00

State of aggregation

25.89

21.00

15.37

7.00

58.00

Degree of
aggregation

0.32

0.30

0.148

0.14

0.60

Dispersion factor

150.2

151.9

63.2

47.6

275.0

Dev

Maximu
m

*St.
=

standard deviation
4.3 Relationship among soil properties
Organic carbon associated with 8-2mm and 0.25-0.05mm was negatively
correlated with % sand and % clay (Table-4.4). Organic carbon associated with
8-2mm and 0.25-0.05mm was positively correlated with % silt. Organic carbon
content was positively correlated with state of aggregation and degree of
aggregation .State of aggregation was positively correlated with % clay and was
negatively correlated with % sand (Table-4.4). Degree of aggregation was
positively correlated with state of aggregation and state of aggregation was
negatively correlated with dispersion factor.
Table 4.4: Correlations among selected soil properties
pH

% OC
pH
-0.283
0.461

EC ds/m

NSI %Sand

%Silt

%Clay

SA

DF

EC ds/m 0.887 -0.356


0.001
NSI

0.347

-0.511 0.119 -0.350


0.160 0.761 0.356

%Sand -0.599 -0.428 -0.383 0.449


0.088 0.250 0.309 0.225
%Silt

0.780 -0.007 0.644 -0.460 -0.838


0.013 0.986 0.061 0.213 0.005

%Clay

-0.167 0.793 -0.342 -0.076* -0.470 -0.087


0.667 0.011 0.367 0.846 0.202 0.823

SA

0.600** -0.187 0.712 -0.268 -0.518 0.818 0.376


0.088 0.629 0.031 0.486 0.153 0.007 0.318

DA

0.327* -0.381

0.583 -0.059 -0.060

0.444 -0.609

0.864*

0.390
DF

0.311

0.099

0.881

0.878

0.231

0.082

0.003

0.839 -0.164 0.701 -0.540 -0.690 0.901 -0.197 -0.663


0.273**
0.005 0.673 0.035 0.133 0.039 0.001 0.612 0.051
0.477

*Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level


**Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level

Cell contents: Pearson correlation, P-Value


The value of NSI can vary between 0 to 1 (Six et al. 2000a).The NSI of studied soil
varied from 0.38 to 1.01 for different series of soil under different textural
classes. The NSI was higher in silty clay loam soil and lower in silty clay soil. The
mineralogy of studied soils may play important role in aggregate stability (Six et
al., 2000a).
CONCLUSIONS/Summury

As soil aggregation strongly affected by soil organic carbon content and type of
soil. It can be conclude that yet soil aggregate is badly affected by soil organic
carbon content rather than type of soil also play a vital role in soil aggregate
status. From my result, Harta soil series contain large amount of % OC, but as it
was peat basin soil so aggregate status was poor. Similarly Sara soil contain little
amount of % OC but aggregate status was rich as it was Ganges meander
floodplain soil and inherited texture clay loam.