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This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 24 No. 3, p. 198-201
    Received: Nov 10, 1959
    Accepted: Jan 4, 1960

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Extraction of Soil Organic Matter With Anhydrous Formic Acid1

  1. J. W. Parsons and
  2. J. Tinsley2



Formic acid, being a polar compound, has proved a good solvent for polysaccharides and in the anhydrous condition it exhibits neither oxidizing nor hydrolytic properties. Shaking soil with cold anhydrous formic acid dissolved an appreciable quantity of organic matter but extracted considerably less than did two consecutive ½-hour boiling periods under reflux. Addition of inorganic cations to the extractant increased its efficiency. Recovery of the dissolved material was attained by precipitation with diisopropyl ether containing 1% CH3COCl which held inorganic cations in solution. Repeated precipitation from formic acid solution yielded a material low in ash with a good physical texture. The N extracted from a wide range of soils varied from 27 to 43% of the total N while for composts the value was as high as 87%. The yield of organic material represented from 27 to 39% of the total organic matter for the soils and 80% for the compost.

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