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ARS Home » Plains Area » Lubbock, Texas » Cropping Systems Research Laboratory » Wind Erosion and Water Conservation Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #232288

Title: Soil sustainability as measured by carbon sequestration using carbon isotopes from crop-livestock management systems

item Zobeck, Teddy

Submitted to: ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/5/2008
Publication Date: 10/9/2008
Citation: Deycard, V.N., Hudnall, W., Allen, V., Zobeck, T.M. 2008. Soil sustainability as measured by carbon sequestration using carbon isotopes from crop-livestock management systems[sbstract]. ASA-CSSA-SSSA Joint Annual Meeting. October 5-9, 2008. Houston, Texas. Paper No. 608-8.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Soil Organic Carbon (SOC) is an integral part of maintaining and measuring soil sustainability. This study was undertaken to document and better understand the relationships between two livestock-crop-forage systems and the sequestration of SOC with regards to soil sustainability and was conducted on the Texas High Plains, a semiarid region. The two systems included in the study were a cotton (Gossypium hirsutum) monoculture system and a cotton and beef cattle grazing system. The cotton and beef cattle grazing system is 53.6% WW-B Dahl old world bluestem (Bothriochloa bladhii), a perennial warm-season grass and the other 46.4% of the system is divided in two paddocks of equal size where no-till cotton is grown alternately with cereal rye (Secale cereale). With a livestock-crop rotation system that has varying cover crop residues from different forage species and input returns from the livestock, it becomes difficult to understand the main contributing factor to the increase or decrease of SOC sequestered within the system. Each system is replicated three times. Seven soil core samples from each paddock from depths of 0-5, 5-10, and 10-20 cm were obtained. S13C isotope ratios were used to trace the percentage of SOC to its source. C3 (trees, shrubs, and cool seasoned grasses) and C4 plants (warm season grasses) have a specific isotopic ratio variation of S13C in SOC. Warm season grasses produce about twice as much biomass as cool season grasses and it is hypothesized that the cropping system with better management practices integrating warm season grasses and livestock return higher inputs of C to the soil improving soil sustainability. We believe that the old world bluestem is the more significant contributor to higher carbon returns followed by cereal rye, no-tilled cotton and conventionally-tilled cotton, which decreases soil sustainability.