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Plants found to alter soil types

The study was co-authored by UWA adjunct senior lecturer and Department of Agriculture and Food soil scientist William Verboom, together with botanist professor John Pate. Dr Verboom says scientists around the world now needed to rethink how soils were formed and the impact that certain vegetation has on soil type formation.

Exciting research has revealed some plants have the ability to alter soil types. The study is at odds with previous scientific research advocating that vegetation occurs in certain environments only as a direct result of soil type.

The research is based on the finding that certain plants have the ability to alter a soil type by mining elements and hydraulically lifting them to sites in the soil profile where microbes assemble them into new minerals.

The research suggests that certain Mallee species take control of their environment by engineering a soil structure that helps them to command key resources such as water and nutrients.

The research outlines how Mallee trees absorb topsoil water during winter with their upper lateral roots and then pump this water down through taproots to depth.

The plants allow the dry upper soil to pull water up from these deep stores, Contained in this stream are common mineral elements such aluminum and iron sourced from the lower layer. Through this process of hydraulic redistribution, soils and their structures are altered over hundreds, rather than millions of years.

Source: - daily mail (prepared by science and technology information center)


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