Soil-solution chemistry is commonly studied in forests through the use of soil lysimeters.This approach is impractical for regional survey studies, however, because lysimeter installation and operation is expensive and time consuming. To address these problems, a new technique was developed to compare soil-solution chemistry among red spruce stands in New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine. Soil solutions were expelled by positive air pressure from soil that had been placed in a sealed cylinder. Before the air pressure was applied, a solution chemically similar to throughfall was added to the soil to bring it to approximate field capacity. After the solution sample was expelled, the soil was removed from the cylinder and chemically analyzed. The method was tested with homogenized Oa and Bs horizon soils collected from a red spruce stand in the Adirondack Mountains of New York, a red spruce stand in east-central Vermont, and a mixed hardwood stand in the Catskill Mountains of New York. Reproducibility, effects of varying the reaction time between adding throughfall and expelling soil solution (5-65 minutes) and effects of varying the chemical composition of added throughfall, were evaluated. In general, results showed that (i) the method was reproducible (coefficients of variation were generally < 15%), (ii) variations in the length of reaction-time did not affect expelled solution concentrations, and (iii) adding and expelling solution did not cause detectable changes in soil exchange chemistry. Concentrations of expelled solutions varied with the concentrations of added throughfall; the lower the CEC, the more sensitive expelled solution concentrations were to the chemical concentrations of added throughfall. Addition of a tracer (NaBr) showed that the expelled solution was a mixture of added solution and solution that preexisted in the soil. Comparisons of expelled solution concentrations with concentrations of soil solutions collected by zero-tension and tension lysimetry indicated that expelled solution concentrations were higher than those obtained with either type of lysimeter, although there was less difference with tension lysimeters than zero-tension lysimeters. The method used for collection of soil solution should be taken into consideration whenever soil solution data are being interpreted.
Additional publication details
Chemical evaluation of soil-solution in acid forest soils