ORIGINAL RESEARCH
Soil Aggregate Response to Three Freeze-Thaw Methods in a Northeastern China Mollisol
Shuai Chen 1, 2, 3  
,  
C. Lee Burras 2  
,  
Xingyi Zhang 1  
 
 
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1
Key laboratory of Mollisols Agroecology, Northeast Institute of Geography and Agroecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Harbin, China
2
Department of Agronomy, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, USA
3
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
CORRESPONDING AUTHOR
Xingyi Zhang   

Northeast Institute of Geography and Agroecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, No.138 Haping Road, Nangang District, Northeast Institute of Geography and Agroecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Harbin, 150081 Harbin, China
Online publish date: 2019-05-29
Publish date: 2019-07-08
Submission date: 2018-03-08
Final revision date: 2018-06-17
Acceptance date: 2018-10-25
 
Pol. J. Environ. Stud. 2019;28(5):3635–3645
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ABSTRACT
Freeze-thaw (FT) cycles occur annually in soils of mesic and frigid temperature regimes. FT has profound impacts on soil aggregates yet is often difficult to document in field settings. As a result, laboratory-based FT experiments are widely used, albeit with their own limitations. Both laboratory and field-based research indicates that aggregate properties vary with rates of freezing and thawing as well as the number and amplitudes of FT cycles. In this study, we introduce a continuous freezing-to-thawing-to-freezing technique (i.e., “VTR”) and compare it to a commonly used discrete freeze-then-thaw-then-freeze method (i.e., “RTCR”) and compare both results to natural seasonal changes. Our study soil is the A horizon of the major cropped mollisol in northeastern China. We examined it under natural field soil moisture conditions as well as two controlled soil moisture contents in the laboratory. Both RTCR and VTR show a decrease in large (>1mm) aggregate content and a corresponding increase in medium (0.5 to 0.2 mm) aggregates (P>0.05) that is proportional to the number of FT cycles and soil moisture content. Wet aggregate stability (WAS) increased (P<0.05) over the time of the experiment with each method. RTCR data showed an interaction between FT cycles and soil water content. VTR was better, although certainly not with better matched field results than RTCR, which we attribute its FT cycles being matched to anactual field. These results confirm the dependability and authenticity of the VTR technique.
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