The proportion of N from crop residues entering the light-fraction organic matter (LFOM) pool was investigated in soils with contrasting soil organic matter and microbial characteristics arising from different management histories. A laboratory experiment was conducted in which 15N-labelled sugar beet, Brussels sprout or ryegrass shoots, which possessed a range of C/N contents, and hence different biochemical qualities, were incorporated into a sandy–loam soil collected from within a field (FC) or from the field margin (FM). Amounts of C and N incorporated into LFOM were determined after 112 days. The FC and FM soils had organic C contents of 0.9% and 2.5%, respectively. Addition of crop residues increased total LFOM N content and reduced its C/N in FC soil but had no effect on total LFOM N or its C/N in FM soil. Ryegrass incorporation into FC was the only treatment in which there was a net increase in LFOM C. Isotopic analysis indicated that more crop-residue-derived N became incorporated into the LFOM N pool in FM relative to FC soil, with per cent crop residue N incorporated ranging from 25.9% to 35.3% in FC and between 38.9 and 68.5 in FM. Incorporation of crop residues had a positive priming effect on pre-existing LFOM N in FM but not FC soil. We conclude that the characteristics of plant material, together with differences in soil organic matter and microbiology resulting from contrasting management, determined the amount of crop residue C and N incorporated into both HFOM and LFOM. \u
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