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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Transport of Nutrients, Soil Carbon, Trace Metals, and Enzyme Activities on Dusts Generated from Soils of the Southern Great Plains

item Ketterer, Michael - NORTHERN AZ UNIVERSITY

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: July 23, 2003
Publication Date: November 10, 2003
Citation: Van Pelt, R.S., Zobeck, T.M., Acosta Martinez, V., Chavez, J.A., Ketterer, M.E., Gill, T.E., Baker, J.T. 2003. Transport of nutrients, soil carbon, trace metals, and enzyme activities on dusts generated from soils of the southern great plains. American Society of Agronomy Abstracts. 2003 CDROM.

Interpretive Summary: Fugitive dust emissions from agricultural operations and from wind erosion is a hazard to transportation, machinery, and human and environmental health. The loss of plant nutrients and soil carbon on dust degrades soil and results in reduced crop productivity. In spite of the fact that dust emissions are the most visible evidence of wind erosion, relatively little is known about the qualities or quantities of plant nutrients, trace and heavy metals, and enzyme activities carried and transported over population centers and watersheds downwind of the source regions. We performed physical and chemical analysis of the surface horizon of source soils with different known erosion and deposition histories, mechanically sieved surface soil, aeolian materials collected over an actively eroding surface, dust from a large attic several meters from actively eroding fields, and mechanically sieved samples of that dust. These analyses were performed in order to determine and in an attempt to quantify the historic discharge of dust, soil carbon, trace and heavy metals, and enzyme activities from a locally important source region in the Southern Great Plains. This information should be useful to health specialists, environmental managers, and scientists working in the field of soil genesis.

Technical Abstract: Wind erosion is a common process in semi-arid regions that degrades soil and results in fugitive dust emissions that obscure visibility, damage crops and machinery, and are hazardous to human and environmental health. We sampled surface soils with known erosion and deposition histories, aeolian materials collected within 1 m of an eroding surface, mechanically entrained dust, mechanically sieved dust and surface soil, and dust from 2 immediately adjacent attics located several km from eroding fields that had served as deposition surfaces for 72 and 49 years. The samples were analyzed for particle size distribution, percent organic C, water soluble anions, plant nutrients, and trace elements, acid soluble trace elements, and alkaline phosphatase and beta glucosidase activities. In general, when compared to a non-eroded native range site, eroded and in-field deposition surface soils had lower concentrations of organic C, plant nutrients and trace elements and much lower enzyme activities. Sieved surface soil samples showed that concentrations of organic C, plant nutrients, and trace elements and enzyme activities all increased as particle size decreased. Similar trends were noted with all the measured chemical parameters in aeolian materials with the exception of enzyme activities as sediments became finer with increasing distance from the vent of the 49 year old attic. Enzyme activities in the attic samples were negatively correlated with the trace element concentration.

Last Modified: 4/22/2015
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