dark-colored. stable form of organic matter that remains after most of plant or animal residues have decomposed.
This article may be expanded with text translated from the corresponding article in German. (May 2016) Click [show] for important translation instructions.
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In soil science, humus (derived in 1790–1800 from the Latin humus for earth, ground) denominates the fraction of soil organic matter that is amorphous and without the "cellular cake structure characteristic of plants, micro-organisms or animals". Humus significantly affects the bulk density of soil and contributes to its retention of moisture and nutrients.
In agriculture, "humus" sometimes also is used to describe mature or natural compost extracted from a woodland or other spontaneous source for use as a soil conditioner. It is also used to describe a topsoil horizon that contains organic matter (humus type, humus form, humus profile).
Humus is the dark organic matter that forms in soil when dead plant and animal matter decays. Humus has many nutrients that improve the health of soil, nitrogen being the most important. The ratio of carbon to nitrogen (C:N) of humus is 10:1.