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Amount, distribution and driving factors of soil organic carbon and nitrogen in cropland and grassland soils of southeast Germany (Bavaria)

  • Agricultural soils have a high potential for sequestration of atmospheric carbon due to their volume and several promising management options. However, there is a remarkable lack of information about the status quo of organic carbon in agricultural soils. In this study a comprehensive data set of 384 cropland soils and 333 grassland soils within the state of Bavaria in southeast Germany was analyzed in order to provide representative information on total amount, regional distribution and driving parameters of soil organic carbon (SOC) and nitrogen (N) in agricultural soils of central Europe. The results showed that grassland soils stored higher amounts of SOC (11.8 kg m(-2)) and N (0.92 kg m(-2)) than cropland soils (9.0 and 0.66 kg m(-2), respectively) due to moisture-induced accumulation of soil organic matter (SOM) in B horizons. Surprisingly, no distinct differences were found for the A horizons since tillage led to a relocation of SOM with depth in cropland soils. Statistical analyses of driving factors for SOM storage revealedAgricultural soils have a high potential for sequestration of atmospheric carbon due to their volume and several promising management options. However, there is a remarkable lack of information about the status quo of organic carbon in agricultural soils. In this study a comprehensive data set of 384 cropland soils and 333 grassland soils within the state of Bavaria in southeast Germany was analyzed in order to provide representative information on total amount, regional distribution and driving parameters of soil organic carbon (SOC) and nitrogen (N) in agricultural soils of central Europe. The results showed that grassland soils stored higher amounts of SOC (11.8 kg m(-2)) and N (0.92 kg m(-2)) than cropland soils (9.0 and 0.66 kg m(-2), respectively) due to moisture-induced accumulation of soil organic matter (SOM) in B horizons. Surprisingly, no distinct differences were found for the A horizons since tillage led to a relocation of SOM with depth in cropland soils. Statistical analyses of driving factors for SOM storage revealed soil moisture, represented by the topographic wetness index (TWI), as the most important parameter for both cropland and grassland soils. Climate effects (mean annual temperature and precipitation) were of minor importance in agricultural soils because management options counteracted them to a certain extent, particularly in cropland soils. The distribution of SOC and N stocks within Bavaria based on agricultural regions confirmed the importance of soil moisture since the highest cropland SOC and N stocks were found for tertiary hills and loess regions, which exhibited large areas with potentially high soil moisture content in extant floodplains. Grassland soils showed the highest accumulation of SOC and N in the Alps and Pre-Alps as a result of low temperatures, high amounts of precipitation and high soil moisture content in areas of glacial denudation. Soil class was identified as a further driving parameter for SOC and N storage in cropland soils. In total, cropland and grassland soils in Bavaria store 242 and 134 Mt SOC as well as 19 and 12 Mt N down to a soil depth of 1 m or the parent material, respectively.show moreshow less

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Author:Martin Wiesmeier, Rico Hübner, Frauke Barthold, Peter Spörlein, Uwe Geuss, Edzard Hangen, Arthur Reischl, Bernd Schilling, Margit von Lützow, Ingrid Kögel-Knabner
DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agee.2013.05.012
ISSN:0167-8809 (print)
Parent Title (English):Agriculture, ecosystems & environment : an international journal for scientific research on the relationship of agriculture and food production to the biosphere
Publisher:Elsevier
Place of publication:Amsterdam
Document Type:Article
Language:English
Year of first Publication:2013
Year of Completion:2013
Release Date:2017/03/26
Tag:Agricultural soils; Carbon sequestration; Soil moisture; Soil organic carbon stocks; Topographic Wetness Index (TWI)
Volume:176
Issue:32
Pagenumber:14
First Page:39
Last Page:52
Funder:Bavarian State Ministry of the Environment and Public Health
Organizational units:Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät / Institut für Erd- und Umweltwissenschaften
Peer Review:Referiert