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Organic materials with a C: N ratio ranging from about 85: 1 to about 10: 1 were submitted to nitrification tests in an acid and in an alkaline soil during a period of 6 months. In the acid soil only pea pod meal, with a C: N ratio of 13·3: 1 showed an increase in inorganic N over control; in the alkaline soil the limit above which no nitrification will occur within a period of 6 months was at C: N = 26: 1; below this limit the rate of nitrification increased rapidly with decreasing C: N ratio. Unnitrified N was left behind in a quantity corresponding to 1·5–2·2 per cent, of the original material, the percentage being higher in the case of materials rich in N.
All the materials tended to increase the content of “a-humus” in the soil, though not to the same extent or in the same manner. More “a-humus” was produced in the alkaline than in the acid soil, except in the case of farmyard manure. Straw, sweet clover, lupin and farmyard manure apparently acted both through their lignin content and through the synthesising action of microorganisms, since they increased the amounts of both N and methoxyl in humus. Mycelium of Polyporus contains a fraction possessing the properties of “humic acid,” rich in N, but devoid of methoxyl, which persists in the soil.
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