Articles | Volume 2, issue 2
Original research article
22 Apr 2016
Original research article |  | 22 Apr 2016

Interactions between organisms and parent materials of a constructed Technosol shape its hydrostructural properties

Maha Deeb, Michel Grimaldi, Thomas Z. Lerch, Anne Pando, Agnès Gigon, and Manuel Blouin

Abstract. There is no information on how organisms influence hydrostructural properties of constructed Technosols and how such influence will be affected by the parent-material composition factor. In a laboratory experiment, parent materials, which were excavated deep horizons of soils and green waste compost (GWC), were mixed at six levels of GWC (from 0 to 50 %). Each mixture was set up in the presence/absence of plants and/or earthworms, in a full factorial design (n  =  96). After 21 weeks, hydrostructural properties of constructed Technosols were characterized by soil shrinkage curves. Organisms explained the variance of hydrostructural characteristics (19 %) a little better than parent-material composition (14 %). The interaction between the effects of organisms and parent-material composition explained the variance far better (39 %) than each single factor. To summarize, compost and plants played a positive role in increasing available water in macropores and micropores; plants were extending the positive effect of compost up to 40 and 50 % GWC. Earthworms affected the void ratio for mixtures from 0 to 30 % GWC and available water in micropores, but not in macropores. Earthworms also acted synergistically with plants by increasing their root biomass, resulting in positive effects on available water in macropores. Organisms and their interaction with parent materials positively affected the hydrostructural properties of constructed Technosols, with potential positive consequences on resistance to drought or compaction. Considering organisms when creating Technosols could be a promising approach to improve their fertility.

Short summary
This paper addresses the evolution of engineered soils (i.e., Technosols). The formation of such soils begins with proportional mixing of urban waste. Technosols are particularly well suited for investigating the role of organisms in soil function development. This is because they provide a controlled environment where the soil development can be monitored over time. Organisms and their interaction with parent materials positively affect the structure of Technosols.