FERNANDEZ HONAINE mariana
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Silica biomineralizations. their role in the evolution and degradation of soils in the southeast of Pampean Plain, Argentina
OSTERRIETH, MARGARITA; BORRELLI, NATALIA; ALVAREZ, M FERNANDA; FERNÁNDEZ HONAINE, MARIANA
Conferencia; 5th International Conference on Silicon in Agriculture; 2011
The southeast of Buenos Aires province, Argentina, is an important socioeconomic sector of the Pampean region. The soils of this region are one of the most fertile of the world and they have been used for agricultural activities for more than 150 years. These human activities have modified the physical, chemical and biological properties of the soils and have a negative environmental impact. The rol of the silica in the matrix conformation which in turn modify the type, morphology and consistency of aggregates, their stability and response to different types of use, is little known. Also, the importance of the contribution of the plant silica biomineralizations of the most representative enviroments of the Pampean region is scarce studied. The aim of the study is to define and quantify the presence of silica biomineralizations in the natural plant communities, in the most common crops of the area and in the horizons of the typical Argiudolls affected by agricultural practices. Lastly, the matrix of the aggregates is analyzed at microscopic and submicroscopic levels. The silica biomineralizations of plants and the aggregates of the horizonts of typical Argiudolls in natural and agricultural plots were analyzed by loupe, optical and petrographic microscopes, SEM and EDAXs analyses. In the study area the plant communities that have been developed through all the Cenozoic are represented by grasslands. Mean values of silica content of the plant communities range between 2 and 7% dry weight. The presence of silicophytoliths in the soils ranges between 3% (parental material) and more than 50% (superficial horizons). In these last horizons the contribution of amorphous silica is relevant. The content of silicophytoliths ranges between 60 to 105 tn/ha and Si ranges between 25 and 45 tn/ha. These values are higher in the cultivated plots due to burning activities and the presence of crop residues. The matrix of the aggregates of strong pedal, is made up in turn by microaggregates with a recurring elemental composition, mainly consisting of carbon and silicon. As the use of these soils is higher, the proportions of these elements and the substructures of the organominerals complexes are modified. A higher land use leads to lower carbon content and to an increment of amorphous silica, along with calcium, iron, aluminum subordinates. The weathering of silicophytoliths is an ongoing process in these soils and contribute to the formation of amorphous silica-rich matrix of the aggregates and thus to maintain stability. Despite the intensity of tillage in cultivated soils, the negative effect would be mitigated by the high contribution of the same silicophytoliths.