Many temperate agricultural soils have prolonged periods in the winter when plant carbon inputs to the soil are low. Soil maintained at low temperature in the absence of plants was used to simulate the conditions in a vineyard soil during winter. In a four month simulated overwintering period we showed that the concentration of dissolved organic carbon and nitrogen in soil solution slowly declined alongside heterotrophic soil respiration. Measurements of free amino acid concentrations and turnover indicated that the amino acid pool in soil was rapidly depleted but readily replenished throughout the four-month period. This indicates that the soil contained intrinsic reserves of labile C that was capable of supporting the soil microbial community in times of reduced plant C inputs.
DOC; DON; microbial activity; mineralization; nitrate; storage