Plant and Soil

, Volume 189, Issue 2, pp 197–203 | Cite as

Decomposition of wheat straw and rye residues as affected by particle size

  • Denis A. Angers
  • Sylvie Recous


Effects of contact between the soil and crop residues on the processes of residue decomposition are still poorly understood. The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of residue particle size on the decomposition of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) straw (C/N=270) and green rye (Secale cereale) residues (C/N=9). Residue particle size was used as a means to vary the contact between crop residues and the soil. Carbon mineralization was measured during 102 d for straw and 65 d for rye, on residues ranging in sizes from laboratory model (0.03 cm) to field-scale (10 cm). The soil was a silt (Typic Hapludalf) and the incubation was performed at 15 °C. The effects of particle size on C mineralization varied for the two residues. In the first two days of incubation, decomposition rate of rye increased with decreasing particle size but thereafter, the trend was reversed. In 65 days, 8% more C was decomposed in the 7-cm residues than in the 0.03-cm ones. For wheat straw, early decomposition (3–17 days) was faster for the small-sized particles (0.06 and 0.1 cm). Thereafter, the largest size classes (5 and 10 cm) decomposed faster. After 102 days, the very fine particles (≤ 0.1 cm) showed the greatest and the intermediate size classes (0.5 and 1 cm), the lowest amount of C mineralized. We hypothesized that greater availability and accessibility of N was responsible for the higher rates of decomposition observed for finely-ground wheat straw while a physical protection of finely ground residues was probably involved in the observed reverse effect for rye.

decomposition particle size residue rye straw 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Denis A. Angers
    • 1
    • 2
  • Sylvie Recous
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre de Recherches sur les Sols et les Grandes Cultures, Agriculture et Agroalimentaire CanadaSainte-FoyCanada
  2. 2.Unité d'Agronomie de Laon-Péronne, INRALaon CedexFrance

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