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Acidification processes and soil leaching influenced by agricultural practices revealed by strontium isotopic ratios

Abstract : In natural river systems, the chemical and isotopic composition of stream- and ground waters are mainly controlled by the geology and water­rock interactions. The leaching of major cations from soils has been recognized as a possible consequence of acidic deposition from atmosphere for over 30 years. Moreover, in agricultural areas, the application of physiological acid fertilizers and nitrogen fertilizers in the ammonia form may enhance the cation leaching through the soil profile into groundand surface waters. This origin of leached cations has been studied on two small and adjacent agricultural catchments in Brittany, western France. The study catchments are drained by two first-order streams, and mainly covered with cambisoils, issued from the alteration and weathering of a granodiorite basement. Precipitations, soil water- and NH4 acetate-leachates, separated minerals, and stream waters have been investigated. Chemical element ratios, such as Ba/Sr, Na/Sr and Ca/Sr ratios, as well as Sr isotopic ratios are used to constrain the relative contribution from potential sources of stream water elements. Based on Sr isotopic ratio and element concentration, soil water- and NH4 acetate leaching indicates (1) a dominant manure/slurry contribution in the top soil, representing a cation concentrated pool, with low 87Sr/86Sr ratios; (2) in subsoils, mineraldissolution is enhanced by fertilizer application, becoming the unique source of cations in the saprolite. The relatively high weathering rates encountered implies significant sources of cations which are not accessory minerals, but rather plagioclase and biotite dissolution. Stream water has a very different isotopic and chemical composition compared to soil water leaching suggesting that stream water chemistry is dominated by elements issued from mineral and rock weathering. Agriculture, by applications of chemical and organic fertilizers, can influence the export of major base cations, such as Na+. Plagioclase dissolution, rather than anthropogenically controlled soil water, seems to be the dominant source of Na+ in streams. However, Ca2+ in streams is mostly derived from slurries and manures deposited on top soils, and transferred into the soil ion-exchange pool and stream waters. Less than 10% of Na+, 5­40% of Sr2+ and 20­100% of Ca2+ found in streams can be directly derived from the application of organic fertilizers.
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Anne-Catherine Pierson-Wickmann, Luc Aquilina, Christina Weyer, Jérôme Molenat, Gunnar Lischeid. Acidification processes and soil leaching influenced by agricultural practices revealed by strontium isotopic ratios. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, Elsevier, 2009, 73 (16), pp.4688-4704. ⟨10.1016/j.gca.2009.05.051⟩. ⟨insu-00424871⟩



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