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Use of thermogravimetry-differential scanning calorimetry to characterize modelable soil organic matter fractions

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Elisa Lopez-Capel, Professor David ManningORCiD


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We used thermal analysis to compare the proportions of active and more stable components in soil organic matter (SOM) fractions and whole soil under contrasting agricultural land-uses. The fractions (free light, intra-aggregate, and organomineral fractions) were isolated using density fractionation. Exothermic weight loss between 300 and 350°C was attributed to a relatively labile portion comprising carboxyl and aliphatic C, and that between 400 and 450°C to the decomposition of material rich in aromatic components. Under arable cultivation, free light SOM showed much greater weight loss in the first exothermic range than intra-aggregate SOM. In soil receiving very small inputs of organic matter (a long-term bare fallow) the free light and intra-aggregate fractions displayed similar characteristics and resembled the intra-aggregate fraction from the arable soil. The difference between the free light and intra-aggregate fractions was also small for the grassland soil but the fractions resembled the free light fraction from the arable soil. Small total weight loss for whole soil and organomineral fractions demonstrated the value of physical fractionation techniques in establishing the effect of land-use on SOM with greater precision than is possible whole (unfractionated) soil.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Lopez-Capel E, Sohi S, Gaunt J, Manning DAC

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Soil Science Society of America Journal

Year: 2005

Volume: 69

Issue: 1

Pages: 136-140

Print publication date: 01/01/2005

ISSN (print): 0361-5995

ISSN (electronic): 1435-0661

Publisher: Soil Science Society of America