Recommendations for Estimating Soil Organic Matter Turnover

To accurately measure soil organic matter turnover, several critical measurements are required. First, accurate SOC values must be determined at the beginning and end of the experiment. In addition, soil samples for bulk density must be taken. Second, above-ground biomass returned to the soil must be measured. Third, an understanding of the relationship between above- and below-ground biomass is needed to estimate below-ground biomass. Fourth, if 13C isotopic approaches are being utilized, then no-plant control areas should be integrated into the experimental protocol. These plots are used to get an estimate of 13C enrichment of the relic carbon during the experimental timeframe. To determine carbon budgets using 13C isotopic techniques several equations need to be solved simultaneously.

Acknowledgements Support for this project was provided by the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council, South Dakota Soybean Research and Promotion Council, NRCS, USDA-CSREES-seed technology grant, South Dakota 2010 initiative, USDA-SARE (enc07-095, 2007-47001-03883), and NASA.

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