STUDIES ON THE DECOMPOSITION OF PLANT MATERIAL IN SOIL. V. THE EFFECTS OF PLANT COVER AND SOIL TYPE ON THE LOSS OF CARBON FROM14C LABELLED RYEGRASS DECOMPOSING UNDER FIELD CONDITIONS
Article first published online: 28 JUL 2006
Journal of Soil Science
Volume 28, Issue 3, pages 424–434, September 1977
How to Cite
JENKINSON, D. S. (1977), STUDIES ON THE DECOMPOSITION OF PLANT MATERIAL IN SOIL. V. THE EFFECTS OF PLANT COVER AND SOIL TYPE ON THE LOSS OF CARBON FROM14C LABELLED RYEGRASS DECOMPOSING UNDER FIELD CONDITIONS. Journal of Soil Science, 28: 424–434. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2389.1977.tb02250.x
- Issue published online: 28 JUL 2006
- Article first published online: 28 JUL 2006
- (Received 23 July 1976)
Ryegrass uniformly labelled with 14C was allowed to decompose for 10 years under field conditions in a range of contrasting soils. The amount of organic matter already in a soil had no effect on the retention of labelled C by that soil, nor had a variation in soil pH of from 4.9 to 8.1. Decomposition was initially slower in a strongly acid soil (pH 3.7) but by the end of 5 years the difference between this soil and the others had almost disappeared. The more clay in a soil, the greater the retention of labelled C over the whole 10 year period; this was true of both strongly acid and near-neutral soils. More labelled organic matter was leached from a soil containing 7.6% clay than from one with 17.5% clay, but the amount thus lost was insufficient to account for the difference in retention of C by the two soils. The decomposition of labelled plant material was faster in bare soil than in soil growing grass but the ‘protection’ thus given to the labelled C by the growing grass ended when the grass was removed.
In bare soil about one third of the labelled ryegrass C was left after one year but thereafter decomposition became very much slower and about one eighth of the labelled C still remained in the soil after 10 years. The decay curve can be represented by a two compartment model, in which about 70% of the ryegrass C decomposed by a first order process of half life 0.25 years and the remainder by a similar process of half-life 8 years.