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Current Category » Introduction to Soil Science

Factors affecting decomposition of organic matter

1. Temperature: Cold periods retard plant growth and OM decomposition. Warm summers may permit plant growth and humus accumulation.

2. Soil moisture: Extremes of both arid and anaerobic conditions reduce plant growth and microbial decomposition. Near or slightly wetter than field capacity moisture conditions are most favorable for both processes.

3. Nutrients: Lack of nutrients particularly N slows decomposition.

4. Soil PH: Most of the microbes grow best at pH 6 – 8, but are severely inhibited below pH 4.5 and above pH 8.5.

5. Soil Texture: Soils higher in clays tend to retain larger amounts of humus.

6. Other Factors: Toxic levels of elements (Al, Mn, B, Se, Cl), excessive soluble salts, shade and organic phytotoxins in plant materials.

Current Category » Introduction to Soil Science