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  Section: Principles of Horticulture » Soil organic matter
 
 
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Organic Matter in soil

 
     
 
Content
Soil organic matter
  Organic matter in soil
  Living organisms in the soil
  Nutrient cycles
  Dead organic matter in the soil
  Organic matter levels
  Organic soils
  Benefits of organic matter
  Addition of organic matter
  Green manures
  Composting
  Mulching
Figure 18.1 Earthworms. Casting worms in the foreground eat organic matter and soil and most cast the waste on the surface. In the background are worms that only eat organic matter which we find in compost heaps and wormeries
Figure 18.1 Earthworms.
Casting worms in the
foreground eat organic
matter and soil and most
cast the waste on the
surface. In the
background are worms
that only eat organic
matter which we find in
compost heaps and
wormeries

A typical mineral soil contains between 2 and 5 per cent organic matter. This is made up of living organisms such as plant roots, earthworms, insects, fungi and bacteria. On death these then decompose along with any other organic matter that is incorporated, either naturally such as leaves or by the addition of organic matter from elsewhere such as compost, farmyard manure, spent mushroom compost, coir and bark. Many of the living organisms are responsible for the decomposition of the dead organic matter. This is eventually broken down into its component parts becoming carbon dioxide, water, and minerals; all of which is recycled. There also persists for a very long time a group of organic compounds collectively known as humus.

 
     
 
 
     



     
 
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