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Title: Trends and patterns of anthropogenic evolution of chernozems in lands of agricultural afforestation within the territory of forest-steppe in the center of eastern Europe

item CHENDEV, YURY - Belgorod State University
item PETIN, ALEXANDR - Belgorod State University
item NOVYKH, LARISA - Belgorod State University
item ZAZDRAVNYKH, EVGENY - Belgorod State University
item Sauer, Thomas
item HALL, RICHARD - Iowa State University

Submitted to: Regional Environmental Issues
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/30/2012
Publication Date: 7/1/2012
Citation: Chendev, Y.G., Petin, A.N., Novykh, L.L., Zazdravnykh, E.A., Sauer, T.J., Hall, R.B. 2012. Trends and patterns of anthropogenic evolution of chernozems in lands of agricultural afforestation within the territory of forest-steppe in the center of eastern Europe. Regional Environmental Issues. 2:7-13.

Interpretive Summary: Meeting the biofuel production goals currently in place in the United States will require a dramatic increase in biomass supply. One strategy to meet this need is to use perennial plants on marginal agricultural lands. Field windbreaks or shelterbelts are single to multiple rows of trees and/or shrubs often planted in dryland regions. The potential of shelterbelts to also store carbon (C) in soil and both above- and below-ground biomass has been recognized. Field sites in the Central Russian Uplands were identified and soil samples collected to determine the effects of tree planting on soil properties. Different changes in soil properties were observed for native grassland soils that were cultivated. The results indicate that the soil beneath the trees had more oganic matter than in the adjacent fields and about the same amount as the native grasslands nearby. These results suggest that planting trees on these soils may have reduced soil degradation and/or may have also added organic matter to the soil from decomposing leaves and roots. This research is important for scientists and policymakers interested in the effects of tree planting on former grassland soils for woody biomass production as biofuel feedstock and the associated effects on soil properties.

Technical Abstract: The anthropogenic evolution of chernozems as a result of plowing and the creation of forest shelterbelts on three meadow-steppe areas of forest-steppe were studied. It was established, that in all areas there are similar patterns, caused by the transformation of virgin soils into arable soils and virgin - arable soils into shelterbelt’s soils. Reduction of humus profiles thickness and decrease in depth of effervescence during the 140-150-yr period of the chernozems cultivation took place. The change of the arable lands into the forest shelterbelts and long-term operation of chernozems under forest vegetation led to divergence of trends of agrogenic and “forest” evolution of the chernozems morphogenetic properties. The stable condition of the reserves of organic carbon in chernozems under 55-57-year-old forest belts allows to assume, that the main source of carbon contained in the vegetation cover of shelterbelts (in the first place, in the wood vegetation), serves as a carbon dioxide atmospheric sink.