Submitted to: Plant and Soil
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/7/2014
Publication Date: 9/8/2014
Citation: Soong, J.L., Betzen, J., Calderon, F.J., Cotrufo, F. 2014. Quantifying and characterizing dissolved carbon and nitrogen leaching from litter: a comparison of methods. Plant and Soil. Available: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11104-014-2232-4. Interpretive Summary: In this paper we test several methods for obtaining leachates from plant litter. This is impotant, because leaching of carbon from crop residues is one form that residues contribute to the accumulation of soil organic matter, with implications to C sequestration and soil quality.
Technical Abstract: Litter decomposition has a fundamental role in ecosystem functioning. It recycles energy, carbon and nutrients, supporting ecosystem productivity and soil organic matter formation. Litter decomposition occurs through leaching, fragmentation, and catabolism. Leaching is, arguably, the least studied aspect of decomposition, and we lack a quantitative and qualitative assessment of the various methods used to determine carbon and nutrients leached from litter during decomposition. In this experiment we replicated five commonly used methods to simulate leaching from plant litter in the laboratory, and evaluated the performance of each method based on theoretical, practical and analytical considerations. We also quantitatively report the total dissolved organic carbon and total nitrogen obtained from each method, as well as the molecular level differences between the dissolved organic matter extracted from the various methods using mid-infrared spectroscopy. A critical assessment of the pros and cons of each method is provided to direct future researchers’ choices between methods. .