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Unraveling the long-term stabilization mechanisms of organic materials in soils by physical fractionation and NMR spectroscopy

AuthorsCourtier-Murias, Denis; Simpson, André J.; Marzadori, Claudio; Fernández Arroyo, José Manuel ; García López de Sá, Esther ; Plaza de Carlos, César
KeywordsCrop residues
Cattle manure
NMR spectroscopy
Organic amendments
Organomineral complexes
Physical fractionation
Soil aggregates
Soil organic matter
Issue Date17-Apr-2013
CitationAgriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 17: 9– 18 (2013)
AbstractThe fundamental mechanisms whereby organic inputs stabilize in soil are poorly resolved, which limits our current capacity to predict the dynamics of soil organic matter (OM)turnover and its influence on soil quality and functioning. Here we fractionated soil OM from long-term experimental field plots either unamended or amended with two organic materials of different quality (i.e., solid cattle manure and crop residues) for 44 years into five measurable and meaningful pools directly related to conceptual preservation mechanisms: dissolved OM, mineral-free particulate OM located outside aggregates (unprotected from decomposition), OM occluded within both macroaggregates and microaggregates(weakly and strongly protected by physical mechanisms, respectively), and OM intimately associated with soil mineral particles (protected by chemical mechanisms). Compared to the unamended soil, the application of cattle manure and crop residues increased total organic C content by 35 and 10%, respectively. Most of these increases (up to 60 and 72% for cattle manure and crop residues, respectively) were explained by the mineral-associated OM pool, followed by the intra-microaggregate OM fraction. In general, the distribution and dynamics of N content paralleled those of C content. As determined by a range of modern nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) techniques, including 13C cross polarization magic angle spinning (MAS), 1H high resolution (HR)-MAS, and 1H 13C heteronuclear single quantum coherence HR-MAS NMR, the mineral-associated OM fraction was found to be predominately of microbial origin, unlike free and intra-aggregate OM pools, which were dominated by plant structures at different stages of decomposition. As a whole, our results indicate that the main mechanism by which organic inputs are stabilized and OM accrues in soils is not the physical and chemical protection of undecayed or partially degraded organic structures, but the adsorption on mineral surfaces of microbial biomass and microbial by-products resulting from microbial growth, transformation, and degradation processes. It is possible that organic amendments increase more than previously thought the microbial populations of the soil, which live, thrive, and die in close association with the mineral surfaces. This mechanism appears to be enhanced with the addition of stable organic materials.
Description18 páginas, 6 figuras y 4 tablas
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.agee.2013.03.010
Appears in Collections:(ICA) Artículos
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