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Summary

Sorptive retention of organic matter is important in maintaining the fertility and quality of soils in agricultural ecosystems. However, few sorption studies have been conducted that use dissolved organic matter (DOM) characteristic of agricultural amendments. We investigated the sorption to goethite (α-FeOOH) of DOM extracted from: (i) above-ground biomass of wheat straw (Triticum aestivum L.), maize residue (Zea mays L.), soybean residue (Glycine max (L.) Merr.), and hairy vetch residue (Vivia billosa L.); (ii) below-ground biomass from maize, soybean, canola (Brassica napus L.), and green bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.); and (iii) beef, dairy, poultry, and pig animal manures. The apparent molecular weight (MWAP) of the DOM was measured by high performance-size exclusion chromatography and ranged from 312 to 1074 g mol−1. The carboxyl-group content of the DOM measured by potentiometric titration ranged from 4.84 to 21.38 mmol(−) g−1 carbon. The humification index (HIX) determined by fluorescence spectrometry varied from 1.15 to 4.33. Sorption was directly related to both MWAP and HIX values of the DOM. Molecular weight analysis of the solution prior to and after sorption indicated that the DOM molecules > 1800 g mol−1 were preferentially sorbed, resulting in fractionation of the DOM upon reaction with goethite. The multiple regression equation, based only on MWAP and HIX parameters, explained 76% of the variance in amount of DOM sorbed. The results indicate that MWAP and HIX are important factors in controlling the sorption of DOM to mineral surfaces. Amendment with materials that release DOM of higher molecular weight and greater humification will result in enhanced initial sorption of DOM to soil solids, thereby contributing to accumulation of a larger soil organic C pool.