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Study Results from Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) Update Understanding of Soil Research

January 30, 2014

By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Agriculture Week -- Current study results on Soil Research have been published. According to news reporting from Glen Osmond, Australia, by VerticalNews journalists, research stated, "Soil organic carbon (OC) exists as a diverse mixture of organic materials with different susceptibilities to biological decomposition. Computer simulation models constructed to predict the dynamics of soil OC have dealt with this diversity using a series of conceptual pools differentiated from one another by the magnitude of their respective decomposition rate constants."

The news correspondents obtained a quote from the research from Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), "Research has now shown that the conceptual pools can be replaced by measureable fractions of soil OC separated on the basis of physical and chemical properties. In this study, an automated protocol for allocating soil OC to coarse (>50 mu m) and fine (50 mu m) fractions was assessed. Automating the size fractionation process was shown to reduce operator dependence and variability between replicate analyses. Solid-state C-13 nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy was used to quantify the content of biologically resistant poly-aryl carbon in the coarse and fine size fractions. Cross-polarisation analyses were completed for coarse and fine fractions of 312 soils, and direct polarisation analyses were completed for 38 representative fractions. Direct polarisation analyses indicated that the resistant poly-aryl carbon was under-represented in the cross-polarisation analyses, on average, by a factor of similar to 2. Combining this under-representation with a spectral analysis process allowed the proportion of coarse- and fine-fraction OC existing as resistant poly-aryl C to be defined. The content of resistant OC was calculated as the sum of that found in the coarse and fine fractions. Contents of particulate and humus OC were calculated after subtracting the resistant OC from the coarse and fine fractions, respectively. Across the 312 soils analysed, substantial variations in the contents of humus, particulate, and resistant carbon were noted, with respective average values of 9.4, 4.0, and 4.5g fraction C/kg soil obtained. When expressed as a proportion of the OC present in each soil, the humus, particulate, and resistant OC accounted for 56, 19, and 26%, respectively. The nuclear magnetic resonance analyses also indicated that the use of a 50-mu m sieve to differentiate particulate (>50 mu m) from humus (50 mu m) forms of OC provided an effective separation based on extents of decomposition."

According to the news reporters, the research concluded: "The procedures developed in this study provided a means to differentiate three biologically significant forms of soil OC based on size, extent of decomposition, and chemical composition (poly-aryl content)."

For more information on this research see: Quantifying the allocation of soil organic carbon to biologically significant fractions. Soil Research, 2013;51(7-8):561-576. Soil Research can be contacted at: Csiro Publishing, 150 Oxford St, PO Box 1139, Collingwood, Victoria 3066, Australia. (CSIRO Publishing -; Soil Research -

Our news journalists report that additional information may be obtained by contacting J.A. Baldock, CSIRO Land & Water Sustainable Agr Flagship, Glen Osmond, SA 5064, Australia. Additional authors for this research include J. Sanderman, L.M. Macdonald, A. Puccini, B. Hawke, S. Szarvas and J. McGowan.

Keywords for this news article include: Glen Osmond, Soil Research, Australia and New Zealand

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Source: Agriculture Week

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