Articles | Volume 20, issue 7
Technical note
17 Apr 2023
Technical note |  | 17 Apr 2023

Technical note: The recovery rate of free particulate organic matter from soil samples is strongly affected by the method of density fractionation

Frederick Büks

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Particles under stress: ultrasonication causes size and recovery rate artifacts with soil-derived POM but not with microplastics
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Two different microbial communities did not cause differences in occlusion of particulate organic matter in a sandy agricultural soil
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Cited articles

Bronick, C. J. and Lal, R.: Soil structure and management: a review, Geoderma, 124, 3–22,, 2005. 
Büks, F. and Kaupenjohann, M.: Enzymatic biofilm digestion in soil aggregates facilitates the release of particulate organic matter by sonication, SOIL, 2, 499–509,, 2016. 
Büks, F., Kayser, G., Zieger, A., Lang, F., and Kaupenjohann, M.: Particles under stress: ultrasonication causes size and recovery rate artifacts with soil-derived POM but not with microplastics, Biogeosciences, 18, 159–167,, 2021. 
Cerli, C., Celi, L., Kalbitz, K., Guggenberger, G., and Kaiser, K.: Separation of light and heavy organic matter fractions in soil – Testing for proper density cut-off and dispersion level, Geoderma, 170, 403–416,, 2012. 
Don, A., Scholten, T., and Schulze, E. D.: Conversion of cropland into grassland: Implications for soil organic-carbon stocks in two soils with different texture, J. Plant. Nutr. Soil Sci., 172, 53–62,, 2009. 
Short summary
Ultrasonication with density fractionation of soils is a commonly used method to separate soil organic matter pools, which is, e.g., important to calculate carbon turnover in landscapes. It is shown that the approach that merges soil and dense solution without mixing has a low recovery rate and causes co-extraction of parts of the retained labile pool along with the intermediate pool. An alternative method with high recovery rates and no cross-contamination was recommended.
Final-revised paper