Authors:J. Prieto Méndez, O. Acevedo Sandoval, and F. Prieto García
Soil structure stability depends on several factors and its assessment is conducted using different methods and prediction indices. One of the indicators is soil organic matter (SOM), since this helps to keep mineral particles together against destabilizing forces such as wetting and raindrop impact. However, previous studies have emphasized the relationship between aggregate stability and SOM content without considering its type or quality. Therefore, in this study the association between the quality and content of SOM and the structural stability of the surface layer was evaluated in three soils used for growing malting barley in the southern part of Hidalgo State, Mexico. With simple random sampling nine observation points were selected in each soil, where samples were taken in order to determine the stable aggregate size distribution, particle size distribution, content and fractionation of SOM, and the prediction indices of surface sealing and crusting derived from these characteristics. The soils showed low structural stability (except in Apan), as shown by the percentage runoff recorded in the field. There was a close association between the size (from 4 to 2 mm and <0.25 mm) of water-stable aggregates and the different fractions of SOM, while the fulvic acid (FA) fraction had a negative relationship with smaller aggregates (R = −0.84). Finally, it was found that only the FAO crusting index was able to predict the structural stability level in the soil.