< Back to previous page
Soil Water Retention as Affected by Management Induced Changes of Soil Organic Carbon: Analysis of Long-Term Experiments in Europe
Journal Contribution - Journal Article
Soil water retention (SWR) is an important soil property related to soil structure, texture, and organic matter (SOM), among other properties. Agricultural management practices affect some of these properties in an interdependent way. In this study, the impact of management-induced changes of soil organic carbon (SOC) on SWR is evaluated in five long-term experiments in Europe (running from 8 up to 54 years when samples were taken). Topsoil samples (0–15 cm) were collected and analysed to evaluate the effects of three different management categories, i.e., soil tillage, the addition of exogenous organic materials, the incorporation of crop residues affecting SOC and water content under a range of matric potentials. Changes in the total SOC up to 10 g C kg−1 soil (1%) observed for the different management practices, do not cause statistically significant differences in the SWR characteristics as expected. The direct impact of the SOC on SWR is consistent but negligible, whereas the indirect impact of SOC in the higher matric potentials, which are mainly affected by soil structure and aggregate composition, prevails. The different water content responses under the various matric potentials to SOC changes for each management group implies that one conservation measure alone has a limited effect on SWR and only a combination of several practices that lead to better soil structure, such as reduced soil disturbances combined with increased SOM inputs can lead to better water holding capacity of the soil.