Resistance of Humus to Decomposition

Abstract

AN organic soil (previously under wattle followed by grass) containing 8.51 per cent organic carbon (Walkley and Black1, corrected) has been submitted 204 times to the following cycle : (a) moistened to field capacity ; (b) allowed to decompose for 5 days at 25° C. in the macro-respirometer2; (c) oven-dried at 100° C. for 48 hr. After 105 such treatments it was calculated3 that no further decomposition would occur, on moistening, after about the 250th treatment and that 73 per cent of the organic carbon originally present would have been mineralized. After 204 such treatments, however, the soil had become completely structureless and on moistening formed cohesive lumps, a condition adverse to aerobic decomposition. The experiment was therefore concluded and the soil analysed. A comparison of the results for the soil before and after the 204 treatments is given in Table 1.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

References

  1. 1

    Walkley, A., and Black, I. A., Soil Sci., 37, 29 (1934).

  2. 2

    Birch, H. F., and Friend, M. T., Nature, 178, 500 (1956).

  3. 3

    Birch, H. F., Plant and Soil, 12, 81 (1960).

  4. 4

    Walker, T. W., and Adams, A. F. R., Soil Sci., 85, 307 (1958).

  5. 5

    Thompson, L. M., and Black, C. A., Soil Sci. Soc. Amer. Proc., 12, 323 (1947).

  6. 6

    Bremner, J. M., J. Soil Sci., 2, 67 (1951).

Download references

Author information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

BIRCH, H., FRIEND, M. Resistance of Humus to Decomposition. Nature 191, 731–732 (1961). https://doi.org/10.1038/191731a0

Download citation

Further reading

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.