Agronomy and Horticulture Department


Date of this Version



Published in Agron. J. 94:455–461 (2002).


Microbial biomass (MB) is a key variable controlling soil organic matter dynamics in soil. Currently, there is little information on the amount and significance of MB in highly managed golf greens. Our objective was to determine the amount and distribution of MB within soil structural components of golf greens and its relationship to the location of organic substrates. During 1996, 47 greens were sampled from 12 golf courses within Nebraska (USA). Microbial biomass, determined as extractable lipid phosphate on field-moist soils, increased linearly with age of green (Y = 19.39 + 3.54x; r2 = 0.87, P = 0.001). In 1997 and 1999, selected greens were resampled and separated into mineral fraction (MF) and particulate organic matter (POM) fraction using a sodium metatungstate (NMT; r = 2.3 g cm-3). Then, POM was separated into light (L-POM) and heavy (H-POM) fractions using NMT (r = 2.0 g cm-3). Amount of MB of whole soil and POM was linearly related to green age (r2 = 0.76 and 0.68, respectively). Amount of MB in MF was not related to green age. The portion of total soil MB associated with POM increased significantly from 25.6% for an 8-yr-old green to 77.8% for a 28-yr-old green. Carbon in fulvic acid and humic acid increased with green age from 0.5 to 1.7 and 0.6 to 2.6 g kg-1 soil, respectively. As humus is a relatively stable form of soil organic matter, we hypothesized that humus accumulation within POM renders both POM and associated MB more resistant to degradation; thus, they accumulate.