Comparison of five soil organic matter decomposition models using data from a 14C and 15N labeling field experiment

M. Pansu, P. Bottner, L. Sarmiento, K. Metselaar

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33 Citations (Scopus)


Five alternatives of the previously published MOMOS model (MOMOS-2 to -6) are tested to predict the dynamics of carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) in soil during the decomposition of plant necromass. 14C and 15N labeled wheat straw was incubated over 2 years in fallow soils of the high Andean Paramo of Venezuela. The following data were collected: soil moisture, total 14C and 15N and microbial biomass (MB)-14C and -15N, daily rainfall, air temperature and total radiation. Daily soil moisture was predicted using the SAHEL model. MOMOS-2 to -4 (type 1 models) use kinetic constants and flow partitioning parameters. MOMOS-2 can be simplified to MOMOS-3 and further to MOMOS-4, with no significant changes in the prediction accuracy and robustness for total-14C and -15N as well as for MB-14C and -15N. MOMOS-5 (type 2 models) uses only kinetic constants: three MB-inputs (from labile and stable plant material and from humified compounds) and two MB-outputs (mortality and respiration constants). MOMOS-5 did not significantly change the total-14C and -15N predictions but markedly improved the predictive quality and robustness of MB-14C and -15N predictions (with a dynamic different from the predictions by other models). Thus MOMOS-5 is proposed as an accurate and ecologically consistent description of decomposition processes. MOMOS-6 extends MOMOS-5 by including a stable humus compartment for long-term simulations of soil native C and N. The improvement of the predictions is not significant for this 2-year experiment, but MOMOS-6 enables prediction of a sequestration in the stable humus compartment of 2% of the initially added 14C and 5.4% of the added 15N
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
JournalGlobal Biogeochemical Cycles
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • fumigation-extraction method
  • microbial biomass
  • sensitivity-analysis
  • agricultural soils
  • nitrogen dynamics
  • carbon
  • turnover
  • temperature
  • calibration
  • straw


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