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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract -

Soil Textural Control on Decomposition and Soil Organic Matter Dynamics


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 60 No. 4, p. 1102-1109
    Received: Sept 8, 1994

    * Corresponding author(s): scottn@landcare.cri.nz
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  1. Neal A. Scott ,
  2. C. Vernon Cole,
  3. Edward T. Elliott and
  4. Steve A. Huffman
  1. Landcare Research NZ Ltd., Private Bag 11052, Palmerston North, New Zealand
    Natural Resource Ecology Lab, Colorado State Univ., Fort Collins, CO 80523



Soil texture affects litter decomposition by altering soil water availability, pore size distribution, nutrient availability, and surface area. We examined the direct and indirect effects of soil texture on litter decomposition and soil organic matter mineralization during 91-d laboratory incubations. Treatments included texture (73, 55, and 40% sand), soil water pressure (−0.012, −0.033, and −0.30 MPa), and nutrient availability (with or without additional N and P). Wheat litter (Triticum aestivum L.) was placed on the surface or incorporated into the soil. Soil texture had no effect on litter decomposition (P >- 0.23). Litter decomposition was fastest for the −0.012 MPa treatment across all soil types (P < 0.01), and the difference between water pressure treatments was greatest in the loam (40% sand) soil. The effects of texture and soil water pressure could be combined into one variable (percentage water-filled pore space), which accounted for more of the variability in litter decomposition and native soil C mineralization than either texture or soil water pressure alone. Surface-applied litter decomposed significantly faster than incorporated litter, but the effect was not consistent across different soils (P = 0.04). Litter addition stimulated the mineralization of native soil C, the greatest effect occurring when litter was incorporated into the fine-textured soil.

Contribution of the Rocky Mtn. For. Range Exp. Stn., Fort Collins, CO.

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