humus

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Humus

Humus is an amorphous, dark brown, organic material that is formed by the incomplete decomposition of organic material. Humus is composed of organic residues that are sufficiently fragmented and decomposed by microbial and other decomposition processes so that the original source is no longer recognizable.

Humus is mostly composed of a very complex mixture of large organic molecules, known as humic compounds, which are resistant to further biological oxidation by microorganisms and are therefore relatively persistent in the environment. Humus is the major component of the organic matter of soil. Soluble humic substances also occur in ground water and surface waters, sometimes giving lakes and rivers a dark, tea-colored appearance.

Humic substances are divided into three functional classes on the basis of their solubility in aqueous solutions of various pH. Humic acids are soluble in strongly alkaline solutions, while fulvic acids are soluble in both alkaline and strongly acidic solutions, and humins are insoluble in either. However, apart from their solubility in these solutions, these fractions of polymeric humic substances cannot be easily differentiated or characterized in terms of chemical structure. All of these humic substances are effective at absorbing water and in binding a wide range of organic and inorganic chemicals. Most of the favorable qualities of humus in soil are associated with these properties.

Humus is a very important aspect of soil quality. Some of the most beneficial attributes of humus are associated with its ability to make small, inorganic particles adhere together as loose, friable aggregates. The resulting, relatively coarse physical structure allows oxygen to penetrate effectively into the soil, which is an important benefit in terms of supporting microbial processes related to decay and nutrient cycling, as well as providing for the respiration of plant roots. Humus also improves the water-holding capacity of soils, which helps to mitigate drought because rainwater does not drain rapidly to depths below the penetration of plant roots. Humus is also important in binding ionic forms of nutrients, and in serving as a nutrient reservoir of organically bound nutrients, which are slowly released for plant uptake by microbial nutrient cycling processes.

Because of these characteristics of humus, agricultural and horticultural soils that are composed of a mixture of humus and inorganic minerals usually have a substantially greater capability for supporting a vigorous and healthy growth of plants. Compared with soils that are lacking in humus, such substrates are better aerated and have an improved water and nutrient holding capacity, and they are generally more fertile. One of major objectives of organic farming is to increase the concentration of humus in soil.

See also Organic farming.

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Humus

Humus is an amorphous, dark brown, organic material that is formed by the incomplete decomposition of biomass . Strictly speaking, humus is composed of organic residues that are sufficiently fragmented and decomposed by microbial and other decomposition processes that the original source of the biotic materials is no longer recognizable.

Humus is mostly composed of a very complex mixture of large organic molecules, known as humic compounds, which are resistant to further biological oxidation by microorganisms and are therefore relatively persistent in the environment. Humus is the major component of the organic matter of soil . Soluble humic substances also occur in ground water and surface waters, sometimes giving lakes and rivers a dark, tea-colored appearance.

Humic substances are divided into three functional classes on the basis of their solubility in aqueous solutions of various pH . Humic acids are soluble in strongly alkaline solutions, while fulvic acids are soluble in both alkaline and strongly acidic solutions, and humins are insoluble in either. However, apart from their solubility in these solutions, these fractions of polymeric humic substances cannot be easily differentiated or characterized in terms of chemical structure. All of these humic substances are effective at absorbing water and in binding a wide range of organic and inorganic chemicals. Most of the favorable qualities of humus in soil are associated with these properties of humic substances.

Humus is a very important aspect of soil quality. Some of the most beneficial attributes of humus are associated with its ability to make small, inorganic particles adhere together as loose, friable aggregates. The resulting, relatively coarse physical structure allows oxygen to penetrate effectively into the soil, which is an important benefit in terms of supporting microbial processes related to decay and nutrient cycling, as well as providing for the respiration of plant roots. Humus also improves the water-holding capacity of soils, which helps to mitigate drought because rainwater does not drain rapidly to depths below the penetration of plant roots. Humus is also important in binding ionic forms of nutrients , and in serving as a nutrient reservoir of organically bound nutrients, which are slowly released for plant uptake by microbial nutrient cycling processes.

Because of these characteristics of humus, agricultural and horticultural soils that are composed of a mixture of humus and inorganic minerals usually have a substantially greater capability for supporting a vigorous and healthy growth of plants. Compared with soils that are lacking in humus, such substrates are better aerated and have an improved water and nutrient holding capacity, and they are generally more fertile. These important benefits are why one of the highest priority objectives of organic methods of agriculture is to improve the concentration of humus in soil.

See also Organic farming.

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humus
1. Decomposed organic matter of soils that are aerobic for part of the year: it is dark brown and amorphous, having lost all trace of the structure and composition of the vegetable and animal matter from which it was derived.

2. A term used by some horticulturists to describe any kind of organic matter in the soil.

3. A surface organic soil horizon that may be divided into types, e.g. mor (acid and layered) or mull (alkaline and decomposed). It is the ‘histic epipedon’ of the USDA Soil Taxonomy. See also humification.

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humus •Lammas • Cadmus • Las Palmaschiasmus, Erasmus •Nostradamus •famous, ignoramus, Seamus, shamus •Polyphemus, Remus •grimace • Michaelmas •Christmas, isthmus •litmus •animus, equanimous, magnanimous, pusillanimous, unanimous •anonymous, eponymous, Hieronymus, pseudonymous, synonymous •Septimus •Mimas, primus, thymus, timeous •Thomas •enormous, ginormous •brumous, hummus, humous, humus, spumous, strumous •blasphemous •bigamous, polygamous, trigamous •endogamous, monogamous •calamus, hypothalamus, thalamus •venomous •autonomous, bonhomous, heteronomous •Pyramus •dichotomous, hippopotamus, trichotomous •Thermos

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humus (hyōō´məs), organic matter that has decayed to a relatively stable, amorphous state. It is an important biological constituent of fertile soil. Humus is formed by the decomposing action of soil microorganisms (e.g., bacteria and fungi), which break down animal and vegetable material into elements that can be used by growing plants. Technically, humus, as the end result of this process, is less valuable for plant growth than are the products formed during active decomposition (see fertilizer). Because of its low specific weight and high surface area, humus has a profound effect upon the physical properties of mineral soils with regard to improved soil structure, water intake and reservoir capacity, ability to resist erosion, and the ability to hold chemical elements in a form readily accessible to plants.

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humus
1. Decomposed organic matter in soils that are aerobic for part of the year. It is dark brown and amorphous, having lost all trace of the structure and composition of the vegetable and animal matter from which it was derived.

2. Surface organic soil horizon that may be divided into types: mor (acid and layered) or mull (alkaline and decomposed). It is now known as a ‘histic epipedon’.

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humus
1. Decomposed organic matter of soils that are aerobic for part of the year: it is dark brown and amorphous, having lost all trace of the structure and composition of the vegetable and animal matter from which it was derived.

2. A surface organic soil horizon that may be divided into types, e.g. mor (acid and layered) or mull (alkaline and decomposed). It is the ‘histic epipedon. See also HUMIFICATION.

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humus The dark-coloured amorphous colloidal material that constitutes the organic component of soil. It is formed by the decomposition of plant and animal remains and excrement (see litter) and has a complex and variable chemical composition. Being a colloid, it can hold water and therefore improves the water-retaining properties of soil; it also enhances soil fertility and workability. Acidic humus (mor) is found in regions of coniferous forest, where the decay is brought about mainly by fungi. Alkaline humus (mull) is typically found in grassland and deciduous forest: it supports an abundance of microorganisms and small animals (e.g. earthworms).

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Humus

Humus is essentially decomposed organic matter in soil . Humus can vary in color but is often dark brown. Besides containing valuable nutrients, there are many other benefits of humus: it stabilizes soil mineral particles into aggregates, improves pore space relationships and aids in air and water movement, aids in water holding capacity, and influences the absorption of hydrogen ions as a pH regulator.

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hu·mus / ˈ(h)yoōməs/ • n. the organic component of soil, formed by the decomposition of leaves and other plant material by soil microorganisms.