Factors affecting organic matter decomposition and stabilization in soils

Because soil organic matter stores both nutrients and water, it is a key to soil quality in both agricultural and forested ecosystems. The overall goal of this research is to help us to understand the factors that preserve organic matter in soils and also understand how soil organic matter levels may be affected by rising temperatures over the coming decades. Many studies suggest that soil organic matter may be lost in areas that are warming due to climate change because microbial decomposition of organic matter is generally more rapid as temperature increases. This basic information about ecosystem processes is also important for agricultural systems, particularly organic and sustainable systems, which depend on building levels of soil organic matter to supply nutrients and increase water-holding capacity. Maine has appropriate compost feedstocks, such as seafood waste, wood waste, and animal manure, for producing high-quality compost for organic and sustainable agricultural producers. Research on such composts may allow producers to develop high-value composts targeted toward specific goals of nutrient management or pest control.

Investigator: Erich, M. S. 

Unit: School of Food and Agriculture

Termination Date: 30-Sep-17