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Keywords:

  • decomposition;
  • lysimeters;
  • nitrate;
  • organic matter;
  • soil warming;
  • temperature profiles

Abstract

A new warming technique has been developed in a field experimental study of the potential effects of climatic change on N leaching from hill land plant/soil systems. Thermocouple compensating cable has been utilized to provide a small cross-section, flexible, low voltage heating cable, mounted on a framework of stainless steel mesh, to provide uniform heating at the vegetation/soil interface of zero-tension lysimeters and surrounding turf. We describe a specially designed heat controller capable of maintaining a temperature differential of 3 °C above ambient at a soil depth of 0.8 cm. The equipment raises temperatures down the soil profile and within the grass sward, whilst tracking normal diurnal temperature variation. Results presented here illustrate the efficacy of the warming technique, together with the consequences for the release of nitrate from lysimeters. The responses of soil solution concentrations of nitrate varied markedly between soil types, but showed a significant decrease in the brown earth during the first 5 months of additional heating. This suggests that increased nutrient release is masked by plant uptake in this soil, but the responses in the other two soils were less marked.