Submitted to: Encyclopedia of Soils in the Environment
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/11/2003
Publication Date: 10/31/2004
Citation: Franzluebbers, A.J. 2004. Decomposition of organic residues. In: Hillel, D., Rosenzweig, C., Powlson, D., Scow, K., Singer, M., Sparks, D., editors. Encyclopedia of Soils in the Environment. New York: Academic Press. p. 112-118.
Technical Abstract: This chapter is part of an encyclopedia, which describes the present knowledge of the world's soils, their origins, properties, classification, and roles in the biosphere. This chapter on decomposition of organic residues describes the source and fate of organic residues in soil. Organic residues are carbon-containing compounds of biological origin. Decomposition is the breakdown of these complex organic materials into simpler components. Decomposition of organic residues in soil is an important ecological function whereby heterotrophic organisms consume various components resulting in the physical and biochemical breakdown of organic materials and transformation and cycling of constituent elements. Biochemical composition, environmental factors, and diversity of organisms play major roles in the dynamics and fate of organic residues in soil. Decomposition is an important soil process that affects nutrient availability on a local scale and environmental quality on a global scale by controlling carbon transformations, greenhouse gas emissions, and nutrient fluxes.