SOM pools. Photo: Elke Schulz/UFZ

Group: Soil Organic Matter

Head: Dr. Elke Schulz   ( Email , Web )
PhD Students
  • Zhiqin Pei
  • Gabriele Henning
  • Jacqueline Rose
Guest Scientists
  • Jana Schmidt

Research Topics

Soils are the major terrestrial reservoir of organic carbon, which contributes to many aspects of soil and environmental quality. Heterogeneity and dynamics of soil organic matter (SOM) in space and time require to consider the relevance to functions in soil and in the global C cycle (supply for plant nutrients, improvement of the water-holding capacity, soil aggregation, and sink/source for trace gases) and demands the differentiation into functional pools represented by specific fractions isolated by various approaches. The soil microbial biomass is considered to be one major part of the active or labile SOM pool. The transformation of SOM through microbial decomposition is responsible both for carbon release to the atmosphere and carbon sequestration in soils. Thus, the status of SOC pools particularly in agricultural soils is of special importance to characterize soil C pools and their dynamics under changing environmental factors such as soil management and climate. 

conceptual SOM model
Conceptual model SOM pools
(Graphic: Elke Schulz/UFZ)

Research focus:

  • Pools and dynamics of soil organic matter (SOM)
  • bridging abiotic and biotic processes of SOM dynamics 
  • biosolid impacts on soil properties
More Information

Research Platforms

Global Change Experimental Facility (GCEF)

Effects of land use and climate change on soil C transformation processes, microbial biomass and their activities

  Global Change Experimental Facility (GCEF)

TrophinOak and PhytOmeters

Effects of oak tree age on the accumulation of SOC

  Oak Phytometer

Static Fertilization Experiment Bad Lauchstädt

Long-term management effects on fertility and sustainability of agro-ecosystems

Static Fertilization Experiment


  • Prof. Dr. Jörg Rinklebe, Universität Wuppertal
  • Prof. Dr. Michael Bottlinger, Umweltcampus Birkenfeld
  • Dr. Günter Hempel, MLU Halle-Wittenberg
  • Dr. Reiner Ruser, Universität Stuttgart-Hohenheim