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Charred organic carbon in German chernozemic soils

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Schmidt, M. W. I., Skjemstad, J. O., Gehrt, E., & Kögel-Knabner, I. (1999). Charred organic carbon in German chernozemic soils. European Journal of Soil Science, 50(2), 351-365.

Burning Vegetation produces partly charred plant material which subsequently could contribute to the highly refractory proportion of soil organic matter. The presence of charred organic carbon (COC) was investigated in 17 horizons originating from nine soils from Germany and the Netherlands using a suite of complementary methods (high-energy ultraviolet photo-oxidation, scanning electron microscopy, solid-state C-13 nuclear magnetic resonance, lignin analysis by CuO oxidation). Charred organic carbon could not be detected in the A horizons of an Alisol and a Gleysol, but it contributed up to 45% of the organic carbon and up to about 8 g kg(-1) of the soil in a range of grey to black soils (Cambisol, Luvisol, Phaeozem, Chernozem and Greyzem). All these soils have chernozemic soil properties (dark colour, A-C profile, high base saturation, bioturbation). A 10-km colour sequence of four chernozemic soils, which were very similar in chemical and physical properties, showed a strong relation between colour and the content of COG. This suggests that the COC affects mainly soil colour in the sequence studied. Finely divided COC seems to be a major constituent of many chernozemic soils in Germany. These results suggest that besides climate, vegetation and bioturbation, fire has played an important role in the pedogenesis of chernozemic soils. [References: 37]