The decline in soil organic matter with cropping is a major factor affecting the sustainability of cropping systems. Changes in total C levels are relativelyinsensitive as a sustainability measure. Oxidation with different strength KMnO4 has been shown to be a more sensitive indicator of change. The relative size of soil C fractions oxidised by 333 mM KMnO4 declined with cropping, whilst the relative size of the unoxidised fraction increased. Changes in δ13C ratio have been used to measure C turnover in systems which include C3 and C4 species.
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Lefroy, R.D.B., Blair, G.J. & Strong, W.M. Changes in soil organic matter with cropping as measured by organic carbon fractions and 13C natural isotope abundance. Plant Soil 155, 399–402 (1993). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00025067