Clay–Organic Interactions in Soil Environments

Authored by: Guodong Yuan , Benny K.G. Theng

Handbook of Soil Sciences Resource Management and Environmental Impacts

Print publication date:  November  2011
Online publication date:  November  2011

Print ISBN: 9781439803073
eBook ISBN: 9781439803080
Adobe ISBN:


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Soil may be regarded as a complex bioorganomineral system where minerals, water, air, organic matter (OM) (humus), and microorganisms interact at scales ranging from nanometers to kilometers. Figure 2.1 gives a simplified diagram of the clay–humus–microbe in soil. In this chapter, we focus attention on the interactions of clays with OM, a process that is arguably as important to sustaining life on earth as is photosynthesis (Jacks, 1973). The clay–organic interaction plays a key role in stabilizing soil OM against microbial decomposition, thus making soils suitable for plant growth, while photosynthesis produces biomass for inputs into soil, as well as for human and animal consumption.

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