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Title: Stock assessment and balance of organic carbon in the Eastern European steppe ecosystems tree windbreaks

item CHENDEV, YURY - Belgorod State University
item Sauer, Thomas
item HALL, RICHARD - Iowa State University
item PETIN, ALEXANDR - Belgorod State University
item NOVYKH, LARISA - Belgorod State University
item ZAZDRAVNYKH, EVGENY - Belgorod State University
item CHEVERDIN, YURY - Voronezh Scientific Research Institute Of Agriculture
item TISHCHENKO, VALERIAN - Voronezh Scientific Research Institute Of Agriculture
item FILATOV, KONSTANTIN - Belgorod State University

Submitted to: Regional Environmental Issues
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/10/2013
Publication Date: 10/23/2013
Citation: Chendev, Y.G., Sauer, T.J., Hall, R.B., Petin, A.N., Novykh, L.L., Zazdravnykh, E.A., Cheverdin, Y.I., Tishchenko, V.V., Filatov, K.I. 2013. Stock assessment and balance of organic carbon in the Eastern European steppe ecosystems tree windbreaks. Regional Environmental Issues. 4:7-14.

Interpretive Summary: Human concern regarding climate change is not new. In the semi-arid grasslands of Russia there has been interest for some 300 years in finding ways to make the climate better for agriculture. Serious droughts and famine were frequent so research was conducted to identify practices to reduce the effects of drought. One practice that was implemented was the planting of rows of trees across the crop fields. The trees improved the growth of nearby crops by partially blocking the hot and dry winds and by trapping snow in winter that melted and could be used by the crops. In this study, soils and trees were studied in three tree windbreaks with a range of rainfall and temperature. The goals were to determine if the tree plantings increased the storage of soil carbon and to quantify the amount of carbon stored in the trees themselves. The results indicate that the presence of trees did increase the amount of soil carbon when compared to the adjacent crop fields, which were cultivated continuously since the trees were planted. Tree biomass was estimated and added to the amount of carbon estimated to have been removed from the atmosphere. This study is important to other scientists and policymakers interested in effective climate change mitigation practices.

Technical Abstract: Reserves and balance of organic carbon in ecosystems of windbreaks planted in the mid-1950s within the Forest-Steppe of Central Eastern Europe were determined from field sampling. Windbreaks were represented by 5-6-row plantings of Populus nigra and Betula pendula ("Streletskaya Steppe"), Acer negundo ("Yamskaya Steppe"), and Quercus robur and Populus basamifera ("Kamennaya Steppe"). Active carbon sequestration by woody vegetation and soil organic matter in the study windbreaks was revealed. At the three studied key areas, total reserves of the newly formed carbon in soil humus and forest phytomass were calculated to be from 128 to 159 t / ha. The average annual growth of carbon reserves accumulated by the vegetation and soils were : 2.7, 2.3, and 2.8 t / ha in "Streletskaya Steppe", "Yamskaya Steppe", and "Kamennaya Steppe", respectively. Based on this amount, the average annual increase in carbon stocks of the windbreaks’s chernozems organic matter was estimated to be 1.4, 1.5, and 0.8 t / ha in "Streletskaya Steppe", "Yamskaya Steppe", and "Kamennaya Steppe", respectively. Agroforestry in the forest steppe, along with other advantages, should be recognized as an important practice capable of reducing the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.