A status report on the labile carbon to total organic carbon ratio of Saguenay–Lac-St-Jean soils

Christine Landry, researcher

Christine Landry

Researcher

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Contact Christine Landry

Description

Labile (active) carbon derives primarily from recent organic matter inputs. It includes carbon from microbial biomass, particulate organic matter, and soil carbohydrates. It is highly sensitive to changes in crop management and is the major source of food (energy) for soil microorganisms. The labile carbon content of soil is considered an excellent indicator of its fertility. Organic soil amendments such as green manures, chicken manure pellets (Acti-Sol type), and slurries—with their lower biological stability index values—provide soils with higher amounts of labile carbon. In comparative trials performed earlier, striking results were obtained with green manures. Although the nutrient content of amendments are sometimes estimated to be on the low side, when actual intakes are measured they trend much higher than the initial estimates. This result could be explained by the significant labile carbon contribution to soil obtained with green manure, which, in turn, stimulates microbial life and, eventually, mineralization. Other studies also point to the role of labile carbon in making phosphorus available. Labile carbon appears to utilize the same binding sites in soil as phosphorus. A labile carbon input would displace some phosphorus into the soil solution, thus making it available again for assimilation into growing plants.

Objective(s)

  • Study the behaviour of the labile organic carbon fraction under the climatic conditions of Saguenay–Lac-St-Jean.
  • Develop a regional profile with the aim of extending this initiative to the whole of Québec.

From 2019 to 2020

Project duration

Market gardening, Fruit production, Field crops

Activity areas

Fertilizer management, Soil health

Services

The determination of a carbon status profile for Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean soils could be replicated across Québec.

Partner

Groupe multiconseil agricole Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean

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