Potential for quantification of biologically active soil carbon with potassium permanganate

Curtis J. Dell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Oxidation of soils with 333mM potassium permanganate (K MnO4) has been identified as a means to quantify labile soil carbon (C) and may have potential for rapid measurement of biologically active soil C. In the current study, active C pools in several soils were estimated by oxidation with a range of K MnO4 concentrations and compared to estimates determined from carbon dioxide evolution during 28-d incubations. Digestion with 333 mM K MnO4 identified larger active C pools than did incubation data. However, shaking soils for 15min with 2.5 mM K MnO4 provided estimates of active C that accounted for 1.5 to 1.9% of the total C pools and were not significantly different than those estimated using incubation data. Oxidation with dilute K MnO4 appears to be feasible to rapidly quantify active soil C pools. However, measurements are dependent on KMnO4 concentration and shaking time, so great care is needed to assure consistent results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1604-1609
Number of pages6
JournalCommunications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis
Issue number9-10
StatePublished - May 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Soil Science


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