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SituResp®: A time- and cost-effective method to assess basal soil respiration in the field

Thoumazeau A., Gay F., Alonso P., Suvannang N., Panklang P., Chevallier T., Bessou C., Brauman A.. 2017. Applied Soil Ecology, 121 : p. 223-230.

The soil microbial activity is a key parameter in numerous studies aiming to assess soil quality in agricultural plots. Basal Soil Respiration (BSR) has been extensively used as an indicator of this soil microbial activity. However, available methods to measure BSR remain time- and labor- consuming and must be performed in the laboratory which may lead to result distortion due to the needed soil pre-treatments. The SituResp® method was developed to assess BSR in a time- and cost-effective way. This method was adapted from a laboratory methodology, the MicroResp¿ method, in order to be implemented in the field on fresh soil samples. It is based on the color change of a pH-sensitive gel in reaction to the CO2 concentration change in the headspace of a soil sample over the 24-h incubation. This study presents the calibration and validation of the SituResp® method in laboratory conditions, and a comparison in the field with the Solvita® tool, a comparable method used by agricultural scientists and advisors. The results of the calibration showed a high correlation between the air CO2 concentration and the absorbance variation of the gel at 570 nm (R2 =0.95). The validation against the titration alkali-trap method, on 21 soil samples, showed a strong correlation between the two methods (R2 =0.90). In the field test on 9 agricultural-plots, the SituResp® method yielded similar results to the Solvita® tool. The SituResp® method is therefore a reliable method for performing a cheap, rapid but efficient assessment of soil microbial activity in the field which could be included in soil quality monitoring. (Résumé d'auteur)

Thématique : Biologie du sol; Chimie et physique du sol

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