Organic matter decomposition is a key soil microbiological function. Intact organic matter decomposition and nutrient cycling indicate that a soil is healthy. In view of these facts, a laboratory-based method has been developed to quantitatively evaluate this process. The ability of soil micro-organisms to decompose filter paper (lignin cellulosic material) as a standard organic material is measured. The method has been used in several research studies as part of a suite of tests for assessing soil microbial health. A draft ISO standard has been developed (ISO/DIS 23265: Soil quality – Test for estimating organic matter decomposition in contaminated soil) and is currently validated in an international ring test organised by Environment Canada. ECT has successfully conducted a pre-test and is involved in all phases of the ring test.
For further information on the contribution of ECT to the development, standardisation and validation of test methods, see here.