Comparative performance of two extractants in colorimetric determination of soil organic matter in paddy soil

Md. Asaduzzaman, Md. Abdul Kader, Shamim Ara Begum, Md. Amanul Islam


Commonly used soil organic carbon (SOC) determination methods are expensive, time consuming, require equipment and skilled personnel making them impractical to use at field level. Therefore, a laboratory analytical study was carried out to identify a suitable extractant for SOC extraction as part of an ongoing effort to develop a low cost quick method for determining soil organic matter (SOM) at field level. For this purpose, 38 soil samples were collected from different Agro Ecological Zone (AEZ) to represent typical rice based cropping pattern covering a sufficient range in texture, soil organic matter, pH, and type of management. Two extractants e.g. NaOH-Pyrophosphate + HCl and NaOH-EDTA were used to extract organic carbon from soil and two wavelength e.g. 300 and 400 nm were used to measure the absorbance of organic carbon in spectrophotometer. Soil organic carbon measurements by CNS analyzer were used as reference measurement to compare the extracting efficiency of SOC by the selected extractants. Both the extract and wavelength showed different degrees of error in OC measurement. The error sum square of NaOH-Pyrophosphate + HCl and NaOH-EDTA measured at 300 nm wavelength were 15.21 and 13.35 whereas at 400 nmit was 227.37 and 19.95, respectively. Consequently, the average error percentages at 300 nm were -33 and -8 while at 400 nm it was -187 and -16. Based on the error sum square and error percentage, NaOH-Pyrophosphate + HCl performed better than the NaOH-EDTA, and 400 nm wavelength came out better than the 300 nm wavelength. In addition, both the extracts produced coloured solutions which were easily visible or detectable by naked eye and the colour intensity increased with the increase in SOC content. Variations in colour among the soils depending on organic matter content indicate that it would be possible to develop a new low cost method for SOM determination at field level by using NaOH-Pyrophosphate + HCl as the extractant. Further research is warranted to confirm this finding.


Soil organic matter; Colorimetric determination; extractants; low cost method; paddy soils

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