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Functions of Natural Organic Matter in Changing Environment
Vol. xx, No. xx, 2013; Pages: 73-77

Integrated Physical-Chemical Procedure for Soil Organic Carbon Fractionation and Characterization During Transition to Organic Farming

H. M. Abdelrahman, D. C. Olk, C. Cocozza, D. Ventrella, F. Montemurro, T. Miano

Institute of Soil and Water Resources, Zhejiang University.


Two field experiments, in the south of Italy, were established in 2009 to study and characterize soil organic matter (SOM) during transition to organic farming. Experiments included a cereal/leguminous rotation fertilized with permitted amendments with three field replicates. A sequential fractionation procedure was used to separate different SOM fractions: light fraction (LF), two size classes of particulate organic matter (POM), mobile humic acid (MHA), and Ca-bound humic acid (CaHA). Isolated fractions were quantified and analyzed for their C and N content and carbohydrate and amino compound composition. The masses of the isolated fractions increased during 2-year course, with noticeable increases in LF and POM. Moreover, LF and POM were found more responsive than MHA to treatment and crop. The xylose/mannose ratio explained that MHA-carbohydrates were mainly of microbial origin, while LF- and POM-carbohydrates were of plant origin. Amino compounds constituted up to 30% of total soil N and were found to be more responsive to seasonal variation than to agronomic practices.

Keywords:Mobile humic acid (MHA); Light fraction; Labile organic carbon; Particulate organic matterAmino acids; Carbohydrates.

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