Biology and Fertility of Soils

, Volume 50, Issue 1, pp 95–103 | Cite as

Impact of activated charcoal and tannin amendments on microbial biomass and residues in an irrigated sandy soil under arid subtropical conditions

  • André SradnickEmail author
  • Mariko Ingold
  • Johanna Marold
  • Rajasekaran Murugan
  • Andreas Buerkert
  • Rainer Georg Joergensen
Original Paper


Effects of goat manure application combined with charcoal and tannins, added as feed additives or mixed directly, on microbial biomass, microbial residues and soil organic matter were tested in a 2-year field trial on a sandy soil under Omani irrigated subtropical conditions. Soil microbial biomass C revealed the fastest response to manure application, followed by microbial residue C, estimated on the basis of fungal glucosamine and bacterial muramic acid, and finally soil organic C (SOC), showing the slowest, but still significant response. At the end of the trial, microbial biomass C reached 220 μg g−1 soil, i.e. contents similar to sandy soils in temperate humid climate, and showed a relatively high contribution of saprotrophic fungi, as indicated by an average ergosterol to microbial biomass C ratio of 0.35 % in the manure treatments. The mean fungal C to bacterial C ratio was 0.55, indicating bacterial dominance of microbial residues. This fraction contributed relatively low concentrations of between 20 and 35 % to SOC. Charcoal added to manure increased the SOC content and the soil C/N ratio, but did not affect any of the soil microbial properties analysed. Tannins added to manure reduce the 0.5 M K2SO4-extractable N to N total ratio compared to manure control. These effects occurred regardless of whether charcoal or tannins were supplied as feed additive or directly mixed to the manure.


Subtropics Goat manure Charcoal Tannin Microbial biomass C Amino sugars Ergosterol Fungal C to bacterial C 



The technical assistance of Gabriele Dormann is highly appreciated. We thank Mick Locke for careful correction of our English language. This project was supported by Dr. Herbert Dietz from Royal Court Affairs (Royal Gardens and Farms), Sultanate Oman and by the Research Training Group 1397 “Regulation of soil organic matter and nutrient turnover in organic agriculture” of the German Research Foundation (DFG).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • André Sradnick
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Mariko Ingold
    • 2
  • Johanna Marold
    • 1
  • Rajasekaran Murugan
    • 1
  • Andreas Buerkert
    • 2
  • Rainer Georg Joergensen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Soil Biology and Plant NutritionUniversity of KasselWitzenhausenGermany
  2. 2.Department of Organic Plant Production and Agroecosystems Research in the Tropics and SubtropicsUniversity of KasselWitzenhausenGermany
  3. 3.Leibniz Institute of Vegetable and Ornamental Crops Grossbeeren/Erfurt e.V.Theodor-Echtermeyer-Weg 1GrossbeerenGermany

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