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Research Project: Strategies to Support Resilient Agricultural Systems of the Southeastern U.S.

Location: Plant Science Research

Title: Applied aspects of soil carbon

item Franzluebbers, Alan

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/9/2020
Publication Date: 6/7/2021
Citation: Franzluebbers, A.J. 2021. Applied aspects of soil carbon. Book Chapter. Principles and Applications of Soil Microbiology (3rd edition), Gentry, T.J., Fuhrmann, J.J., Zuberer, D.A. (Editors) Chapter 14, Pages 363-384.

Interpretive Summary: Soil and its microbial inhabitants are vital to ecosystem functioning. A scientist from USDA-Agricultural Research Service assembled recent scientific information into a revised textbook on soil microbiology. Sections covered in this chapter on carbon transformation and soil organic matter formation included (1) significance of soil organisms to global, field-level, and root-level carbon cycling. (2) organic matter inputs and characteristics from plants, composts, agricultural byproducts, and industrial byproducts. (3) organic matter decomposition as a function of soil microbial biomass, diversity, and activity, and environmental factors, and its influence on soil health. (4) beneficial properties of soil organic matter, factors influencing soil organic matter, and management effects on soil organic matter. This textbook is expected to be used by a variety of universities throughout the country.

Technical Abstract: Soil organic matter and its microbial residents impart key ecosystem services to which we rely upon on a daily basis. The living soil is teeming with faunal and microbial communities. Globally, soil respiratory activity returns as much carbon to the atmosphere as plants take from it. As soil organisms consume organic compounds, they enrich the soil with mineralized nutrients and various growth-promoting compounds for the benefit of their food-producing allies – the plants. Plants provide a diversity of organic compounds from simple soluble sugars to structurally rigid and complex lignin and polyphenols. Microbial activity is controlled largely by temperature and moisture. Interaction of a diverse array of organic compounds with the milieu of microorganisms creates unique soil organic matter conditions. Our health in this world is tied directly to the health of the soil. Management of soil and soil organic matter is our role. Humanity depends on the orderly functioning of soil – driven by the soil organisms that inhabit it!