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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 30 No. 2, p. 602-607
    Received: June 21, 1999

    * Corresponding author(s): jens.leifeld@iul.admin.ch
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Stabilization of Composted Organic Matter after Application to a Humus-Free Sandy Mining Soil

  1. Jens Leifeld *a,
  2. Stefanie Siebertb and
  3. Ingrid Kögel-Knabnerc
  1. a Federal Research Station for Agroecology and Agriculture FAL/IUL CH 3003 Bern-Liebefeld, Switzerland
    b VHE-NRW, D-40479 Düsseldorf, Germany
    c Technische Universität München, Lehrstuhl für Bodenkunde, D-85350 Freising-Weihenstephan, Germany


The use of mining substrates for recultivation purposes is limited due to their low organic matter (OM) contents. In a 1-yr laboratory experiment we evaluated the stabilization of biowaste compost added to a humus-free sandy mining soil to examine the suitability of compost amendment for the formation of stable soil organic matter (SOM). The stabilization process was characterized by measuring enrichment of OM and nitrogen in particle size fractions obtained after dispersion with different amounts of energy (ultrasonication and shaking in water), carbon mineralization, and amount of dissolved organic carbon (DOC). During the experiment, 17.1% of the organic carbon (OC) was mineralized. Organic carbon enrichment in the <20-μm particle size fraction at the beginning of the experiment was in the range of natural soils with similar texture. Within 12 mo, a distinct OC redistribution from coarse into fine fractions was found with both dispersion methods. The accumulation of OC was more pronounced for the size separates obtained by ultrasonication, where the carbon distribution between 0.45- to 20-μm particle size fractions increased from 30% at the beginning to 71% at the end of the experiment. Dissolved organic carbon contents ranged between 50 and 68 g kg−1 OC and decreased during the incubation. In conclusion, the exponential decrease of carbon mineralization and the OC enrichment in the fine particle size fractions both indicated a distinct OM stabilization in the mining soil.

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Copyright © 2001. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science SocietyPublished in J. Environ. Qual.30:602–607.