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Topsoil organic matter properties in contrasted hedgerow vegetation types

Plant and Soil

Abstract

Hedges, semi-natural landscape components, have the ability to integrate both agronomic and environmental functions and to provide several ecosystem services. The aim of this study was to test whether hedgerow vegetation is a determinant of soil organic matter properties in ancient agricultural lands. We complemented cluster analysis and ordination to determine the extent to which two types of hedges that were distinct in character-plant species also differed between each other in concentration and composition of two major constituents of soil organic matter, namely humic substances and dissolved organic matter. The two types of hedges were associated with significant differences in humic carbon content, hormone-like activity and molecular size of humic substances, which, in general, were more similar to those typical of forest than of agricultural soils. Moreover, we detected between-group differences in several phenolic acids. Variation of the topsoil biochemical properties of hedges may be explained by variation in their vegetation characteristics, similar to other ecosystems. Spontaneous vegetation in hedges perform an important role in controlling the variability of surface soil properties that influence the evolution of soil organic matter and nutrient availability in agricultural lands.

Author(s): Sitzia, T; Pizzeghello, D; Dainese, M; Ertani, A; Carletti, P; Semenzato, P; Nardi, S; Cattaneo, D

Journal: Plant and Soil

Year: 2014

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