Organic soil comes mostly from dead bacteria, not plants, say researchers

December 17, 2012 |

In Germany, researchers from UFZ, Technical University of Dresden) , the University of Stockholm, the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, and Leibniz University Hannover have refuted the thesis that organic components of the soil are comprised mostly of decomposed plant material which is directly converted to humic substances.

Instead, the team found that 40 per cent of the microbial biomass is converted to organic soil components and that easily biologically degradable plant material is initially converted to microbial biomass, which then provides the source material to soil organic matter. Dead bacteria, according to the researchers, play a key role in carbon cocentration as well as soil fertility and agricultural yields.

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