Monitoring Grassland Management Effects on Soil Organic Carbon—A Matter of Scale

Alexandra Crème, Cornelia Rumpel, Sparkle L. Malone, Nicolas P. A. Saby, Emmanuelle Vaudour, Marie-Laure Decau, Abad Chabbi
2020 Agronomy  
Introduction of temporary grasslands into cropping cycles could be a sustainable management practice leading to increased soil organic carbon (SOC) to contribute to climate change adaption and mitigation. To investigate the impact of temporary grassland management practices on SOC storage of croplands, we used a spatially resolved sampling approach combined with geostatistical analyses across an agricultural experiment. The experiment included blocks (0.4- to 3-ha blocks) of continuous
more » ... , continuous cropping and temporary grasslands with different durations and N-fertilizations on a 23-ha site in western France. We measured changes in SOC storage over this 9-year experiment on loamy soil and investigated physicochemical soil parameters. In the soil profiles (0–90 cm), SOC stocks ranged from 82.7 to 98.5 t ha−1 in 2005 and from 81.3 to 103.9 t ha−1 in 2014. On 0.4-ha blocks, the continuous grassland increased SOC in the soil profile with highest gains in the first 30 cm, while losses were recorded under continuous cropping. Where temporary grasslands were introduced into cropping cycles, SOC stocks were maintained. These observations were only partly confirmed when changing the scale of observation to 3-ha blocks. At the 3-ha scale, most grassland treatments exhibited both gains and losses of SOC, which could be partly related to soil physicochemical properties. Overall, our data suggest that both management practices and soil characteristics determine if carbon will accumulate in SOC pools. For detailed understanding of SOC changes, a combination of measurements at different scales is necessary.
doi:10.3390/agronomy10122016 fatcat:c72nnenjkveediuxhtoxdu47aa