Soil structure and its stability determine soil physical functions and chemical properties such as water retention, hydraulic conductivity, susceptibility to erosion, and redox potentials. These soil physical and chemical characteristics are fundamental for biological processes, among them root penetration and organic matter and nutrient dynamics. The soil pore network forms the habitat for soil biota, which in turn actively reshape it according to their needs. The soil biota, root growth, land management practices like tillage and abiotic drivers (e.g. wetting/drying cycles) lead to a constant evolution of the arrangement of pores, minerals and organic matter. With this, also the soil functions and properties are perpetually changing. The importance of the interaction between soil structure (and thus soil functions) on one side and soil biology, climate and soil management on the other, is highlighted by recent research outcomes, which are based on advanced imaging techniques, novel experimental setups and modelling approaches. Still, present studies have barely scratched the surface of what there is to discover.
In this session, we invite contributions on soil structure, its formation and alteration and its associated soil functions. Special focuses are on feedbacks between soil physical or chemical processes and soil biology as well as the impact of mechanical stress exerted by heavy vehicles deployed under land management operations, which are linked with each other through a dynamic soil structure. Further, we encourage submissions that integrate complementary measurement techniques, explore new modelling concepts or aim at bridging different scales.
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