Skip to main content
ARS Home » Midwest Area » Ames, Iowa » National Laboratory for Agriculture and The Environment » Soil, Water & Air Resources Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #306282

Title: Carbohydrates and amino compounds as short-term indicators of soil management

item ABDELRAHMAN, HAMADA - Cairo University
item COCOZZA, CLAUDIO - University Of Bari
item Olk, Daniel - Dan
item VENTRELLA, DOMENICO - Italian Agricultural Research Council
item MIANO, TEODORO - University Of Bari

Submitted to: Clean (Soil Air Water)
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/25/2016
Publication Date: 1/1/2017
Publication URL:
Citation: Abdelrahman, H.M., Cocozza, C., Olk, D.C., Ventrella, D., Miano, T. 2017. Carbohydrates and amino compounds as short-term indicators of soil management. Clean (Soil Air Water). 45(1). doi:10.1002/clen.201600076.

Interpretive Summary: Building soil fertility is an important first step when changing farm land from conventional farming to organic farming, as poor fertility often limits crop growth during the transition. Little information is available on how to promote soil fertility during this transition. We found that the amounts of available organic nutrients in soil became greater when compost was added to soil and also when a bean crop was grown instead of wheat. These results identify some practices for increasing soil fertility during the transition to organic farming. The results will enable farmers to increase their profits during the transition to organic farming, and they will also be of interest to scientists who study organic nutrients in the soil.

Technical Abstract: The objective of this study was to investigate the changes in labile soil organic matter (SOM) fractions during the transition from conventional to organic farming. Two field experiments underwent the transition from conventional to organic farming during 2009–2011 in the south of Italy, at Foggia (FG) and Metaponto (MT). Soils were cultivated with lentil and wheat in rotation and treated with compost or fertilizer in three field replicates. Soil samples were collected at the beginning and at the end of the transition period. A sequential fractionation scheme was used to separate the light fraction (LF), two size classes of particulate organic matter (POM), the mobile humic acid (MHA) fraction and the Ca-bound humic acid (CaHA) fraction. Isolated fractions were quantified and analyzed for C and N. Soil, LF, POM, and MHA were characterized for their contents of carbohydrates and amino compounds. Compost application contributed to significantly greater quantities of LF, POM, and MHA than did fertilizer application. The LF represented only 5–6% of total SOC but was the most responsive to changes in land management. Carbohydrate contents, over the 2-year transition period, decreased in LF while they increased noticeably in POM and slightly in the MHA fraction. Amino compounds constituted up to 30% of total soil N with a major contribution of the humified fractions, MHA and CaHA. The obtained results recommend inclusion of leguminous crops in crop rotation and application of compost for building up labile SOM during the transition to organic farming.