Particulate Soil Organic-Matter Changes across a Grassland Cultivation Sequence
- C. A. Cambardella and
- E. T. Elliott
Many models have been constructed in an attempt to describe the dynamics of soil organic-matter (SOM) turnover, most of which include 2 to 3 kinetically defined organic-matter pools. Physical and chemical definition of these conceptualized SOM pools has been difficult. We describe a simple method for dispersion of soil to isolate a particulate organic-matter (POM) fraction that may represent an important SOM pool in grassland soils. The POM fraction was isolated by dispersing the soil in 5 g L−1 hexametaphosphate and passing the dispersed soil samples through a 53-µm sieve. We compared POM and mineral-associated C among three tillage treatments (20 yr under cultivation) and an undisturbed grassland at Sidney, NE. The POM C in the native sod represented 39% of the total soil organic C. Twenty years of bare-fallow, stubble-mulch, and no-till management reduced the C content in this fraction to 18, 19, and 25%, respectively, of the total organic C. The mineral-associated organic-matter fraction showed no reduction in C content in the bare-fallow treatment compared with the grassland soil but increased in the no-till and stubble-mulch treatments. Nitrogen dynamics generally mirrored those observed for C. Analysis of the POM fraction for lignin and cellulose content indicated that this fraction was 47% lignin and had a lignocellulose index of 0.7. The stable C-isotope composition of the POM fraction suggests that wheat-derived POM turns over faster than grass-derived POM. We suggest the POM fraction closely matches the characteristics of a SOM pool variously described as slow, decomposable, or stabilized organic matter.Please view the pdf by using the Full Text (PDF) link under 'View' to the left.
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