Within the MESCOSAGR project, two innovative management practices were studied in field experiments (see Chap. 3) to increase OC sequestration in agricultural soils:
1. Soil addition with recycled biomasses, such as mature humified compost, characterized by large hydrophobicity and biochemical stability. This practice is expected to sequester biolabile carbon by hydrophobic protection.
2. Soil treatment with a water-soluble iron-porphyrin biomimetic catalyst (see Chap. 1) to promote an in situ photo-oxidative polymerization of soil organic molecules. The polymerized soil organic matter (SOM) is expected to be less readily mineralized by soil microbes and be fixed permanently in soil.
Our aim was to evaluate the quantitative and qualitative changes brought about in soil organic carbon (SOC) by these two novel techniques, as compared to conventional tillage and other common SOM management practices, such as minimum tillage and green manuring.
The effect of soil management practices on SOC stabilization was evaluated through the following parameters:
• Distribution of water-stable aggregates, and soil structural stability
• OC content in bulk soils and water-stable aggregates
• Physical-chemical characterization of humic substances (HS) extracted from soil
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