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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Booneville, Arkansas » Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #347842

Research Project: Sustainable Small Farm and Organic Production Systems for Livestock and Agroforestry

Location: Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center

Title: Features of Fe-Mn nodules in southern Indiana Loess with a fragipan horizon and their soil forming environmental significance

item SUN, ZHONG-XIU - Shenyang Agricultural University
item JIANG, YING-YING - Shenyang Agricultural University
item WANG, QIU-BING - Shenyang Agricultural University
item Owens, Phillip

Submitted to: Geoderma
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/22/2017
Publication Date: 10/25/2017
Citation: Sun, Z., Jiang, Y., Wang, Q., Owens, P.R. 2017. Features of Fe-Mn nodules in southern Indiana Loess with a fragipan horizon and their soil forming environmental significance. Geoderma. 313:92-11.

Interpretive Summary: Soils form over geologic time and this formation affects the current use and management of soils. This research used chemical data coupled with microscopic techniques to identify differneces in iron and manganese concretion formation in soils. These iron-managanse concretions affect the soils ability to bind phosphorus and other elements. This paper identified the specific environment necessary to form these iron manganese concretions which consisted of a particulary silty windblown soil material termed loess in a location that underwent seasonal fluctuations of a water table. The cycling of the water table created unique shapes and chemical compositions that ultimatley could impact nutirent binding.

Technical Abstract: Little is known about how Fe-Mn nodules vary in relation to pedogenetic horizons in soils derived from loess. In this investigation nodules were collected according to soil genetic horizons from a Fragiudalf in loess at Southeast Purdue Agricultural Center (SEPAC) in Indiana and physical, chemical, micro- and macromorphological features of nodules and their soil matrix were determined as a function of soil depth. The quantity, chemical composition, and micromorphology of the nodules varied with genetic horizons. The Ap horizon was found to contain the largest amount by weight of nodules (25.43 g/kg) and this was likely due to soil erosion. After the Ap horizon, the 2Btx1 and 2Btx2 horizons had the greatest content of Fe-Mn nodules by weight. Nodules had lower concentrations of SiO2, Al2O3, K2O, TiO2, MgO, Na2O, and CaO; in contrast Fe2O3, MnO, and P2O5 in nodules showed clearly greater concentrations than that in the corresponding soil material. The SiO2 content decreased with nodule size whereas Fe2O3 and MnO increased. The least depletion of SiO2 in nodules of 1–2 mm (N2) and 0.5–1 mm (N1) was in the Bt2 horizon, and was greatest in the 2Btx2. The Al2O3 had accumulated in the N2 and N1 nodules within the Ap horizon and in the N2 within the 2Btx2 while other horizons were depleted of Al2O3. Brown nodules had a small Mn/Fe ratio (< 1), whereas black nodules had a large Mn/Fe ratio (> 1). The internal morphology of the nodules also varied with Mn/Fe ratios. The fungal hyphae or bacteria resulted in honeycomb, cell, cone, or dendritic structures. The cell and cone morphology required large Mn/Fe ratios, low pH, and high content of Ald. The scanning electron microscopy (SEM) analysis illustrated an elemental distribution trend such that the Mn was centralized in the nodule internal structure; whereas, Fe was concentrated towards the exterior. The band structure of nodules likely formed in response to seasonal wetting and drying as an accretionary process. Three basic formation stages for a well developed nodule can be inferred which correspond to different soil forming environments: 1) Fe enrichment for nucleus formation in wet soil, 2) Mn enrichment in an intense dry soil, and 3) Fe banding enrichment in a slightly dry soil. Nodule formation occurred synchronously with soil pedogenesis and can therefore be used as a proxy for understanding soil pedogenesis and the environment under which it occurred.