Organic Matter: Management

Authored by: R. Cesar Izaurralde , Carlos C. Cerri

Encyclopedia of Environmental Management

Print publication date:  December  2012
Online publication date:  December  2012

Print ISBN: 9781439829271
eBook ISBN: 9781351235860
Adobe ISBN:


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Soil organic matter (SOM) consists of a complex array of living organisms such as bacteria and fungi, plant and animal debris in different stages of decomposition, and humus—a rather stable brown to black material showing no resemblance to the organisms from which it originates. The level of SOC in virgin soils reflects the action and interaction of the major factors of soil formation: climate, vegetation, topography, parent material, and age. These factors control SOC content by regulating the balance between carbon gains via photosynthesis and losses via autotrophic and heterotrophic respiration, as well as carbon losses in soluble and solid form.

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