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Soil organic carbon storage in a no-tillage chronosequence under Mediterranean conditions

AuthorsÁlvaro-Fuentes, Jorge ; Plaza-Bonilla, Daniel CSIC ORCID ; Arrúe Ugarte, José Luis CSIC ORCID ; Lampurlanés Castel, Jorge; Cantero-Martínez, Carlos
Mediterranean agroecosystems
Soil organic carbon sequestration duration
Soil carbon modelling
Century model
Issue DateMar-2014
CitationÁlvaro-Fuentes J, Plaza-Bonilla D, Arrúe JL, Lampurlanés J, Cantero-Martínez C. Soil organic carbon storage in a no-tillage chronosequence under Mediterranean conditions. Plant and Soil 376 (1-2): 31-41 (2014)
AbstractBackground and Aims The duration of soil organic carbon (SOC) sequestration in agricultural soils varies according to soil management, land-use history and soil and climate conditions. Despite several experiments have reported SOC sequestration with the adoption of no-tillage (NT) in Mediterranean dryland agroecosystems scarce information exists about the duration and magnitude of the sequestration process. For this reason, 20 years ago we established in northeast Spain a NT chronosequence experiment to evaluate SOC sequestration duration under Mediterranean dryland conditions. Methods In July 2010 we sampled five chronosequence phases with different years under NT (i.e., 1, 4, 11, and 20 years) and a continuous conventional tillage (CT) field, in which management prevailed unchanged during decades. Soil samples were taken at four depths: 0-5, 5-10, 10-20 and 20-30 cm. The SOC stocks were calculated from the SOC concentration and soil bulk density. Furthermore, we applied the Century ecosystem model to the different stages of the chronosequence to better understand the factors controlling SOC sequestration with NT adoption. Results Differences in SOC stocks were only found in the upper 5 cm soil layer in which 4, 11 and 20 years under NT showed greater SOC stocks compared with 1 year under NT and the CT phase. Despite no significant differences were found in the total SOC stock (0-30 cm soil layer) there was a noteworthy difference of 5.7 Mg ha-1 between the phase with the longest NT duration and the phase under conventional tillage. The maximum annual SOC sequestration occurred after 5 years of NT adoption with almost 50% change in the annual rate of SOC sequestration. NT sequestered SOC over the 20 years following the change in management. However, more than 75% of the total SOC sequestered was gained during the first 11 years after NT adoption. The Century model predicted reasonably well SOC stocks over the NT chronosequence. Conclusions In Mediterranean agroecosystems, despite the continuous use of NT has limited capacity for SOC sequestration, other environmental and agronomic benefits associated to this technique may justify the maintenance of NT over the long-term.
Description30 Pags.- 1 Tabl. 5 Figs. The definitive version is available at: http://link.springer.com/journal/11104
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11104-012-1167-x
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