Seasonal Changes in Soil Organic Matter and Biomass and Labile Forms of Carbon as Influenced by Crop Rotations
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John Ryan, Samir Masri, Murari Singh. (16/3/2009). Seasonal Changes in Soil Organic Matter and Biomass and Labile Forms of Carbon as Influenced by Crop Rotations. Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis, 40 (1-6).
Recent concerns about the role of carbon (C) in climate change and the implications about soil organic matter (SOM) for sustainable use of soils have underlined the need to examine the role of SOM in cropping systems, particularly in fragile ecosystems. Accordingly, we examined the changes that occur in total SOM and in its more reactive fractions, labile and biomass C, within a long‐term, cereal‐based crop rotation trial. The rotations were wheat (Triticum turgidum var durum) grown after vetch (Vicia sativa), medic (Medicago sativa), chickpea (Cicer arietinum), lentil (Lens culinaris), fallow, a summer crop, melon (Citrullus vulgaris), and after wheat (i.e., continuous wheat). Secondary treatments involved nitrogen (N) fertilizer application and variable grazing intensity. Uncropped microplots were established in the main rotation plots, and in the fallow and medic ones with variable grazing. Total SOM and labile and microbial biomass C were periodically measured in the rotations throughout the cropping season. Medic and vetch were highest in the three C forms, with fallow always lowest. All forms changed with sampling time throughout the season. Organic matter decreased from 1.48% in February to 1.15% in August after cropping. Although labile C followed a similar pattern, with a large falloff between the May and August sampling, biomass C increased initially, remained stable for a few months, and decreased at the last two samplings. Although all three C forms were highest in the zero‐grazing in the fallow and medic rotations, the effect of grazing was not significant. Thus, although organic C can be built up in the soil to varying extents depending on the crop rotation, it is a dynamic entity, especially the labile and biomass fractions, having implications for crop growth and soil quality.
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