Microbial Biomass Carbon


At this Brookdale Research Field, MBFI together with Brandon University is researching the effects of grazing on microbial biomass. This page will provide information about this particular research project; including the background, objectives, and updates. This project is partly funded through MBFI's Research Fund.

Microbial biomass as a possible indicator of soil health by Turner, W. and McGonigle, T. P.

November 2016 Update:

The study to assess possible use of microbial biomass carbon (MBC) as an indicator of soil health is proceeding well. Importantly, productivity differences are beginning to emerge between the planned and continuous systems, so that a difference in soil health will be in place and allow us to deterine if MBC is a useful indicator. The first set of soil samples from 2016 were collected separately from twenty random locations within each grazing treatment within each replicate, providing the opportunity to investigate any possible impact of soil organic matter and soil clay content on microbes. A total of 252 soil samples were taken for MBC determination in 2016. Analysis of field samples will continue in the laboratory through the winter months. Initial inspection of data have confirmed that the fumigation-extraction system, along with the subsequent analysis of extracts for dissolved organic carbon to determine MBC, is working well in the laboratory at Brandon University. A new phase of study will begin over the indoor season to evaluate the basic properties of MBC in terms of soil moisture cycles and inputs of residues and other organic materials in laboratory incubations. Soils have been collected from the field site for this purpose. Plans are also in place for a field manipulation in 2017 to follow MBC in response to experimental degradation of soil health, to be imposed by intense disturbance of plots 2 m by 2m. This field experiment will further evaluate the utility of MBC as an indicator of soil health.

  • Project Lead: Terence McGonigle, Brandon University
  • Project Start: Spring 2016
  • Project Status: In Progress (year 1)
  • Location: Brookdale Research Field