We are thrilled to share the publication of a paper authored by Jordon Wade, which included additional lab members Tunsisa Hurisso and Steve Culman as coauthors, in the Soil Science Society of America Journal. Their paper, Sources of Variability that Compromise Mineralizable Carbon as a Soil Health Indicator, is summarized below:
Accounting for soil biology is a central concept in soil health. However, measuring soil biology can be costly and difficult to translate into management recommendations. Mineralizable carbon (or respiration upon rewetting) has the potential to address both of these issues and has quickly gained in popularity with growers and extension agents alike. However, some have found the metric to be unreliable or inconsistent. This recent study examined several methodological issues with the metric and found that they can greatly impact the final results. For example, rewetting the soil via capillary action from below gave lower mineralizable C values than rewetting from above. Mineralizable C was also shown to be less reliable from lab-to-lab than other traditional soil metrics like pH or soil carbon. Additionally, variation between replicates run in a lab was largely soil-specific, suggesting that the metric is more reliable for some soils than others. This uncertainty associated with the metric should be communicated when using this tool as a soil health indicator.