Influence of prairie restoration on CT-measured soil pore characteristics

J Environ Qual. 2008 Jan 4;37(1):219-28. doi: 10.2134/jeq2007.0227. Print Jan-Feb 2008.


Restored prairies are expected to improve soil physical properties, yet little is known about the extent of change to soil properties and how rapidly these changes take place. The objective of this study was to compare effects of prairie restoration on computed tomography (CT)-measured pore parameters. Undisturbed soil cores (76 mm diam. by 76 mm long) from native prairie (NP), restored prairie (RP), conservation reserve program (CRP), and no-till corn (Zea mays L.)-soybean (Glycine max (L.) Merr.; CS) sites were collected with six replicates from the 0- to 40-cm depth in 10-cm increments. Five CT images were acquired from each soil core using a medical CT scanner with 0.2 by 0.2 mm pixel resolution with 0.5 mm slice thickness, and then images were analyzed. Soil bulk density and hydraulic conductivity (K(sat)) were also measured. Soils under NP, RP, CRP, and CS areas had 83, 43, 48, and 26 pores on a 2500 mm(2) area, respectively, for the 0- to 40-cm depth. The number of pores, number of macropores (>1000 microm diam.), macroporosity, mesoporosity (200-1000 microm diam.), and fractal dimension were significantly higher and pore circularity was lower for NP, RP, and CRP than the CS treatment. The CT-measured mesoporosity and macroporosity of the CS treatment were 20 and 18% of the values for the NP site. CT-measured number of pores and macropores explained 43 and 40% of the variation for K(sat). The study showed that prairie restoration improves CT-measured soil pore parameters and decreases bulk density which are related to soil water infiltration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture / methods
  • Carbon / analysis
  • Conservation of Natural Resources / methods*
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Missouri
  • Porosity
  • Soil / analysis*
  • Soybeans
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Water Movements
  • Zea mays


  • Soil
  • Carbon