Linkages between aggregate formation, porosity and soil chemical properties

I.C. Regelink, C.R. Stoof, S. Rousseva, L. Weng, G.J. Lair, P. Kram, N.P. Nikolaidis, M. Kercheva, S. Banwart, R.N.J. Comans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

129 Citations (Scopus)


Linkages between soil structure and physical–chemical soil properties are still poorly understood due to the wide size-range at which aggregation occurs and the variety of aggregation factors involved. To improve understanding of these processes, we collected data on aggregate fractions, soil porosity, texture and chemical soil properties of 127 soil samples from three European Critical Zone Observatories. First, we assessed mechanistic linkages between porosity and aggregates. There was no correlation between the fractions of dry-sieved aggregates (N1 mm, DSA) and water-stable aggregates (N0.25 µm, WSA). Soil microporosity and micro + mesoporosity increased with increasing abundance of aggregates, though this correlation was only significant for the WSA fraction. The fraction of DSA did not affect the overall porosity of the soil, but affected the ratio between micro- and mesopores (¿30 kPa/¿0.25 kPa), suggesting that micropores are dominantly located within DSA whereas mesopores are located in betweenDSA and loose particles. Second,we studied the relations between the physical and chemical soil properties and soil structure. Soil texture had only a minor effect on the fractions ofWSA and DSAwhereas Fe-(hydr)oxide content was correlated positively with bothWSA fraction and porosity. This may be attributed to Fe-(hydr)oxides providing adsorption sites for organic substances on larger minerals, thereby enabling poorly reactive mineral particles to be taken up in the network of organic substances. The fraction ofWSA increased with an increase in the soil organic carbon (SOC) and Fe-(hydr)oxides content and with a decrease in pH. This pH-effect can be explained by the enhanced coagulation of organically-coated particles at a lower pH. Overall, this study indicates that mechanistic linkages exist between soil chemical properties, aggregate formation and soil porosity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-37
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • water-retention capacity
  • field-flow fractionation
  • natural organic-matter
  • iron-oxides
  • phosphate adsorption
  • mineral surfaces
  • tropical soils
  • size classes
  • humic-acid
  • stability


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