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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract - DIVISION S-3-SOIL BIOLOGY & BIOCHEMISTRY

Carbon Dynamics of Surface Residue– and Root-derived Organic Matter under Simulated No-till


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 64 No. 1, p. 190-195
    Received: June 30, 1998

    * Corresponding author(s): cindyc@nstl.gov
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  1. W. J. Galea and
  2. C. A. Cambardella *a
  1.  aUSDA-ARS National Soil Tilth Laboratory, 2150 Pammel Dr., Ames, IA 50011 USA


No-till practices have the potential to increase soil organic C, but little is known about the relative contribution of surface residue and roots to soil organic C accumulation. In a simulated no-till experiment, we studied the fate of 14C-labeled surface residue and in situ roots during a 1-yr incubation. Soil samples collected during the incubation were chemically dispersed and separated into five particle size and density fractions. The organic C, 14C, and total N content of each fraction was determined. Alkali traps were used to measure 14C losses due to respiration. After 360 d, 66% of the 14C contained in the surface residue on Day 0 had been respired as 14CO2, 11% remained in residue on the soil surface, and 16% was in the soil. In comparison, 56% of the root-derived 14C in the soil was evolved as 14CO2 and 42% remained in the soil. The large (500–2000 μm) and small (53–500 μm) particulate organic matter (POM) fractions together contained 11 to 16% of the initial root-derived 14C in the soil. In contrast, POM contained only 1 to 3% of the inital surface residue–derived 14C. These data show clear differences in the partitioning of surface residue– and root-derived C during decomposition and imply that the beneficial effects of no-till on soil organic C accrual are primarily due to the increased retention of root-derived C in the soil.

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