European Journal of Soil Science vol:51 pages:1-13
Soils derived from loess are extensive in Europe and are well suited for forestry. They are suspected to be poor acid buffers, however. We have estimated the weathering stage and acid neutralizing capacity of acid soils under forest in a toposequence on loess in the Belgian silt belt. The soils vary distinctly in morphology and physico-chemical properties according to their topographic position. Dystric Cambisols have developed in colluvial deposits in the dry valley floors, whereas Dystric Luvisols have formed on the slopes in a rejuvenated material. The Cambisols are more acid and less saturated in bases than are Luvisols. They are strongly depleted of clay and contain less weatherable minerals. Easily weatherable minerals are concentrated mainly in the clay fraction of both soil types. Clay minerals of size < 2 μm therefore act as major sinks for protons in these soils. A simplified expression taking into account the total reserve in bases, total aluminium and iron occluded in silicates is used to estimate acid neutralizing capacity. Our estimates confirm that these acid loessic soils are indeed poor acid buffers. They show that the Dystric Cambisols depleted of clay are sensitive to potential acidification, whether natural or man-made.