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Polish or Ukrainian?[edit]

I was under the impression Chernozem is a direct transliteration from Ukrainian. ie: the English Chernozem sounds identical to the Ukrainian word, whereas the Polish word does not. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Yakym (talkcontribs) 19:34, 24 January 2007 (UTC).

  • A direct Ukrainian transliteration would be Chornozem, not Chernozem. (talk) 04:44, 13 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Doesn't care, it's all Russia. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:22, 1 September 2015 (UTC)

Or perhaps Russian?[edit] It would make more sense as other soil types - for instance podsol and solonetz come from Russian. With respect, Ko Soi IX 10:20, 7 February 2007 (UTC)

Perhaps. However, we would need a ref that would prove the word originated in one of those languages: it could be Polish, could be Russian... --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| talk 04:53, 27 August 2008 (UTC)


climate is listed as humid continental. this appears to be incorrect, as it's a grassland/steppe soil. tree cover would occur if it were humid. it should be semi-arid Andrewjlockley (talk) 08:43, 27 December 2010 (UTC)

Black C as source of soil color[edit]

Basic Premise[edit]

The Chernozem (literally Black Soil in Russian) soil is significantly blackened by charcoal content. This fact is counter to the understanding established in 1883 by Vasily Dokuchaev that humification alone explains black soil color of Chernozems. That humification alone accounts for the color of the Chernozem is a well established understanding, one that is held by many I have tremendous respect for, including revered soil biologist Elaine Ingham. So I am trying to tread lightly here, laying all this out before improving the article.

Surveys of black C are coming in at 20% of soil organic carbon on average, and >20% in our Chernozem/Mollisol soil types. This information is being picked up in secondary[1][2] and tertiary[3] sources. -- Paleorthid (talk) 20:21, 4 February 2016 (UTC)

That is very interesting if true. Seems strange that after all these years they are only now finding that one of the major characteristics of that soil carbon black. I would not be too surprised that this is true, as one way grasslands are maintained naturally is via fires that suppress the brush. The result would be a lot of carbon. You might consider adding something to the as a preliminary finding. Zedshort (talk) 23:38, 4 February 2016 (UTC)
It will give soil scientists a lot to think about. It is telling that Dokuchaev didn't address fire influence. If Dokuchaev had called out fire as a soil forming factor, we would have been on it. Read that Krug 2003 paper, page 28: A chemical examination of a quantity of [corn] stalks gave 18.8 per cent of dry weight of the stalk nitrate of potash That is a lot of KNO3. In drought-loss corn they reported being able to pour the KNO3 from the stalk. I find that almost impossible to imagine. Our new world black soils were so fertile in the 1800's that it was a problem for cropping such that bulletins gave advice on how to deal with it. IMO that's kind of an obvious red flag that some some innovative thinking outside the box might be warranted, but our best and brightest soils guy, a transplant from Germany Eugene W. Hilgard, the father of American soil science, was stationed mostly away from the Mollisol belt. He recognized soil as a unique product of place, one that warranted deep and careful examination, but he wasn't in the right place to see the fire pattern. Over time the excessive fertility "problem" corrected itself. The 1800s provided the best opportunity to catch the pattern and we missed the clues. Back to the old-world, excessive fertility probably was not the case by the time Dokuchaev did his work on his Chernozems, it is more on us in North America than it is on the Russian school of soil science. We have followed dutifully in Dokuchaev's don't-look-at-the-black-C footsteps, and IMO we deliberately ignored black C, and for an excellent reason: we didn't need to explore black C to get our job assignments done, as soil geographers, as soil agronomists. IMO we are discovering the role of black C in soils only now because climate change is driving us down new paths of inquiry. The job has changed. -- Paleorthid (talk) 02:55, 5 February 2016 (UTC)
That is quite possibly the most fascinating thing I have heard about soil fertility in a long while. It is a bit frightening as it puts the loss of soil fertility in a stark light. On the other hand it suggests a remedy. Zedshort (talk) 01:19, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
Agree with this Canadian research team when they say a considerable change in conceptual understanding (a paradigm shift) appears imminent[4] -- Paleorthid (talk) 17:19, 10 February 2016 (UTC)
The aromaticity of resident Black C, a weathering product of char, accounts for its persistence. Mao 2012[5] found that weathered char residues are composed of ~6 fused aromatic rings in a 2x3 arrangement with 5 carboxyl groups. Mao 2012 reports that Terra preta is almost entirely composed of carbon in this form, that this form occurs abundantly in Mollisols (USA equivalent to Chernozems), that this form contributes most of the cation exchange capacity in Mollisols, and that this form is extractable as humic acid. As you can see in the humic acid article, weathering of fire-derived carbon forms is not one of the three theories of where the humic acid comes from. Our assumptions that humification was the source of the humic fraction is soil prevented us from discovering the role of char. It does appear there is a strong basis for the Ponomarenko (2001) contention that a paradigm shift appears imminent. Soil workers knew the organic carbon was there, we just attributed it to the wrong soil genetic process. Exciting times to be a soil scientist! -- Paleorthid (talk) 18:45, 10 February 2016 (UTC)


  1. ^ Krug, Edward C.; Hollinger, Steven E. (2003). "Identification of Factors that Aid Carbon Sequestration in Illinois Agricultural Systems" (PDF). Champaign, Illinois: Illinois State Water Survey: page 8. ...While humus (especially in organomineral form) helps give soils a black color (Duchaufour, 1978), the literature shows correlation between forest and grassland soil color to BC - the blacker the soil the higher its BC content (Schmidt and Noack, 2000) 
  2. ^ Krug, Edward C.; Hollinger, Steven E. (2003). "Identification of Factors that Aid Carbon Sequestration in Illinois Agricultural Systems" (PDF). Champaign, Illinois: Illinois State Water Survey: page 10. ...Charcoal has been found to contribute up to 45 percent of SOC in grassland soils (Schmidt et al., 1999) and soil biota mix millimeter-sized BC throughout the soil profile (Carcaillet, 2001). .... By increasing biological productivity BC also may contribute to SOC indirectly. Charcoal has been widely used throughout the world as a soil conditioner to increase crop and tree growth, improve germination, and reduce disease (Tryon, 1948; Goldberg, 1985; Kishimoto and Sugiura, 1985; Schmidt and Noack, 2000). Root growth in charcoal-amended soils is enhanced. Production of various legume crops is increased by 20 to 30 percent (Iswaran et al., 1979; Kishimoto and Sugiura, 1985). Exceptionally heavy nodulation has been reported for soybeans grown in charcoal-enriched soils, along with increased yield and N content of roots and shoots. This has been documented even for charcoal added to organic-rich mineral soils and peats. It has been hypothesized that charcoal sorbs agents toxic to rhizobia and other microorganisms of the rhizosphere, and that this effect is general to legumes (Chakrapani and Tilak, 1974; Rajput et al., 1983). The literature shows that charcoal in soil sorbs heavy metals, organic toxins, stimulates microbial activity, acts as a substrate for enhanced microbial growth, and generally stimulates N fixation, ammonification, and nitrification (Tryon, 1948; Kishimoto and Sugiura, 1985; Pietikainen et al., 2000; Schmidt and Noack, 2000). The literature further shows that prairie burning enhances productivity, root biomass levels, root turnover, and arthropods - the latter being especially active in incorporating surface BC throughout the soil profile (Lussenhop, 1976). Frequent presettlement fires in Illinois created a multi-level, positive-feedback system for sequestering SOC and enhancing soil fertility. 
  3. ^ Blume, Hans-Peter (2016). Soil Science (1 ed.). Springer. p. 72. ISBN 978-3642309410. carbon, the decomposition product of charcoal resulting from vegetation fires, is stored in the soil....High proportions of black carbon have been documented in Chernozems... 
  4. ^ Ponomarenko, E.V.; Anderson, D.W. (2001), "Importance of charred organic matter in Black Chernozem soils of Saskatchewan", Canadian Journal of Soil Science, 81 (3): 285–297, The present paradigm views humus as a system of heteropolycondensates, largely produced by the soil microflora, in varying associations with clay (Anderson 1979). Because this conceptual model, and simulation models rooted within the concept, do not accommodate a large char component, a considerable change in conceptual understanding (a paradigm shift) appears imminent. 
  5. ^ Mao, J.-D.; Johnson, R. L.; Lehmann, J.; Olk, J.; Neeves, E. G.; Thompson, M. L.; Schmidt-Rohr, K. (2012). "Abundant and stable char residues in soils: implications for soil fertility and carbon sequestration". Environmental Science and Technology. 46: 9571 – 9576. doi:10.1021/es301107c.