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https://doi.org/10.5194/soil-2020-55
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/soil-2020-55
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  29 Sep 2020

29 Sep 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal SOIL.

Short Communication: Quantifying and Correcting for Pre-Assay CO2 Loss in Short-Term Carbon Mineralization Assays

Matthew A. Belanger1,2, Carmella Vizza1,2, G. Philip Robertson1,3, and Sarah S. Roley2 Matthew A. Belanger et al.
  • 1W.K. Kellogg Biological Station, Michigan State University, Hickory Corners, MI 49060, USA
  • 2School of the Environment, Washington State University, Richland, WA 99354, USA
  • 3Department of Plant, Soil, and Microbial Sciences, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA

Abstract. The active fraction of soil organic carbon (SOC) is an important component of soil health and often is quickly assessed as the amount of CO2 released by re-wetting dried soils in short-term (24–72 h) assays. However, soils can lose carbon (C) as they dry and if soil samples vary in moisture content at sampling, differential C loss during the pre-assay dry-down period may complicate interpretations of C availability. We examined pre-assay CO2 loss and its influence on apparent C availability in the same soil at initial moisture contents of 30, 50, and 70 % water-filled pore space (WFPS). We found that 50 and 70 % WFPS treatments lost more C during drying than those in the 30 % WFPS treatment, which led to a 26–32 % underestimate of C availability in wetter soil. We developed a soil-specific correction factor to account for these initial soil moisture effects. Future C mineralization studies may benefit from similar corrections.

Matthew A. Belanger et al.

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Matthew A. Belanger et al.

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Short summary
Soil organic carbon (SOC), an important indicator of soil health, is often assessed by re-wetting a dry soil and measuring   production, but the potential bias introduced by soils of different moisture contents is unclear. Our study found that wetter soil tended to lose more carbon during drying than drier soil, thus leading to an underestimate of SOC. We developed a correction factor to account for initial soil moisture effects, which future studies may benefit from adapting for their soil.
Soil organic carbon (SOC), an important indicator of soil health, is often assessed by...
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