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Effects of afforestation with four unmixed plant species on the soil–water interactions in a semiarid Mediterranean region (Sicily, Italy)

  • Authors: Laudicina, V.; DE PASQUALE, C.; Conte, P.; Badalucco, L.; Alonzo, G.; Palazzolo, E.
  • Publication year: 2012
  • Type: Articolo in rivista (Articolo in rivista)
  • OA Link:


Purpose An assessment of the effect of plant cover on the properties of four afforested soils in central Sicily was performed with the aim of discriminating among them after 60 years of afforestation. Materials and methods Chemical and biochemical soil analyses were coupled to fast field cycling (FFC) NMR relaxation investigations in order to monitor surface interactions of water in water-saturated soils. Results and discussion The traditional soil analyses revealed that the most stable soil properties such as soil texture and pH are not affected by 60 years of afforestation. Soils developed under eucalyptus trees showed larger amounts of hydrophilic organic matter as compared to the soils under pines and cypresses. FFC-NMR relaxometry data revealed that water, partitioned in clay-, loam-, and sand-type pores, showed longitudinal relaxation time values affected by the interactions with the soluble carbon content. Conclusions The results of the present study evidenced the potential of FFC-NMR relaxometry in differentiating the effect of diverse plant cover on chemical and hydrological properties of soils developed on the same parent material. In fact, in contrast with the traditional physicochemical and biochemical soil characterizations, which were unable to reveal differences among soils afforested with different plant species, FFC-NMR was capable of monitoring differences in water dynamics as affected by the presence of the most soluble soil organic material.