An evaluation of some procedures for assessing the long-term capacity of soil minerals to replenish nutrients lost and the effects of acid deposition
A novel system for leaching of reconstituted cores of soils taken from horizons of Calluna moorland podzol profiles derived from granites has been used to see if absolute, or at least, relative, weathering rates assessed by simple leaching techniques and by using the PROFILE model agreed. Initial base cations are first removed by leaching with ammonium acetate. Agreement was reasonable, but the results highlighted problems posed by mineralization effects in column-based procedures. A successful attempt was made to develop a procedure to overcome this problem, based upon pre-oxidation with H2O2. This procedure was tested on a selection of B and C horizon soils from podzol profiles, and shown to give weathering rates which correlated well with those derived using the PROFILE model. The equilibrated soil cores remaining at the end of the study were then used for testing the effect of acidification of infiltrating water upon weathering rates of base cations. Weathering rate did not increase regularly to combat the acid input. Intact soil core microcosms, fitted with rhizon samplers at three depths and subjected to appropriate simulated precipitation, have been used to elucidate how land use influences the mobility of copper and zinc. Three land uses were considered, improved pasture, semi-improved pasture, and Calluna moorland. Copper and zinc concentrations were also measured in river water samples collected at 59 points from throughout the River Dee network under diverse flow conditions, with a view to elucidating catchment factors influencing the mobilisation of these two elements into river water. The results demonstrated large inputs of copper arising as a consequence of arable land use, and suggested that TOC in drainage water from moorland soils mobilises copper from mineral sediments in the river network. Both zinc and copper concentrations were increased under high discharge conditions.