What is a good level of soil organic matter? An index based on organic carbon to clay ratio

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Prout, J. M., Shepherd, K. D., McGrath, S. P., Kirk, G. J. D. and Haefele, S. M. 2020. What is a good level of soil organic matter? An index based on organic carbon to clay ratio. European Journal of Soil Science. pp. 1-11.

AuthorsProut, J. M., Shepherd, K. D., McGrath, S. P., Kirk, G. J. D. and Haefele, S. M.
Abstract

Simple measures of appropriate levels of soil organic matter are needed for soil evaluation, management and monitoring, based on readily measurable soil properties. We test an index of soil organic matter based on the soil organic carbon (SOC) to clay ratio, defined by thresholds of SOC/clay ratio for specified levels of soil structural quality. The thresholds were originally delineated for a small number of Swiss soils. We assess the index using data from the initial sampling (1978–83) of the National Soil Inventory of England and Wales, covering 3,809 sites under arable land, grassland and woodland. Land use, soil type, annual precipitation and soil pH together explained 21% of the variance in SOC/clay ratio in the dataset, with land use the most important variable. Thresholds of SOC/clay ratio of 1/8, 1/10 and 1/13 indicated the boundaries between “very good”, “good”, “moderate” and “degraded” levels of structural condition. On this scale, 38.2, 6.6 and 5.6% of arable, grassland and woodland sites, respectively, were degraded. The index gives a method to assess and monitor soil organic matter at national, regional or sub-regional scales based on two routinely measured soil properties. Given the wide range of soils and land uses across England and Wales in the dataset used to test the index, we suggest it should apply to other European soils in similar climate zones

KeywordsLand use; Soil clay content; Soil organic carbon; Soil structure
Year of Publication2020
JournalEuropean Journal of Soil Science
Journal citationpp. 1-11
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10/1111/ejss.13012
Web address (URL)https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ejss.13012
Open accessPublished as ‘gold’ (paid) open access
FunderRothamsted Research
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Cranfield University
Funder project or codeS2N - Soil to Nutrition - Work package 1 (WP1) - Optimising nutrient flows and pools in the soil-plant-biota system
The Rothamsted Long Term Experiments [2017-2022]
Publisher's version
Copyright license
CC BY 4.0
Accepted author manuscript
Copyright license
CC BY 4.0
Supplemental file
Copyright license
CC BY 4.0
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online16 Jul 2020
Publication process dates
Accepted09 Jun 2020
PublisherWiley
ISSN1351-0754

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