Journal of Arid Land

Article Title

Fractal features of soil profiles under different land use patterns on the Loess Plateau, China


Fractal theory is becoming an increasingly useful tool to describe soil structure dynamics for a better understanding of the performance of soil systems. Changes in land use patterns significantly affect soil physical, chemical and biological properties. However, limited information is available on the fractal characteristics of deep soil layers under different land use patterns. In this study, the fractal dimensions of particle size distribution (PSD) and micro-aggregates in the 0–500 cm soil profile and soil anti-erodibility in the 0–10 cm soil profile for 10 typical land use patterns were investigated in the Zhifanggou Watershed on the Loess Plateau, China. The 10 typical land use patterns were: slope cropland, two terraced croplands, check-dam cropland, woodland, two shrublands, orchard, artificial and natural grasslands. The results showed that the fractal dimensions of PSD and micro-aggregates were all significantly influenced by soil depths, land use patterns and their interaction. The plantations of shrubland, woodland and natural grassland increased the amount of larger micro-aggregates, and decreased the fractal dimensions of micro-aggregates in the 0–40 cm soil profile. And they also improved the aggregate state and aggregate degree and decreased dispersion rate in the 0–10 cm soil profile. The results indicated that fractal theory can be used to characterize soil structure under different land use patterns and fractal dimensions of micro-aggregates were more effective in this regard. The natural grassland may be the best choice for improving soil structure in the study area.


fractal dimension; anti-erodibility; soil profile; land use pattern; Loess Plateau

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