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ARS Home » Plains Area » Sidney, Montana » Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory » Agricultural Systems Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #333986

Research Project: Development of Ecologically-Sound Pest, Water and Soil Management Practices for Northern Great Plains Cropping Systems

Location: Agricultural Systems Research

Title: Soil carbon fractions in response to long-term crop rotations in the Loess Plateau of China

Author
item FU, XIN - Xian University
item WANG, JUN - Xian University
item Sainju, Upendra
item LIU, WENZHAO - Chinese Academy Of Sciences
item FAZHU, ZHAO - Xian University

Submitted to: Soil Science Society of America Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/1/2017
Publication Date: 5/18/2017
Publication URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/5729140
Citation: Fu, X., Wang, J., Sainju, U.M., Liu, W., Fazhu, Z. 2017. Soil carbon fractions in response to long-term crop rotations in the Loess Plateau of China. Soil Science Society of America Journal. 81(3):503-513. doi:10.2136/sssaj2016.04.0122.

Interpretive Summary: Traditional practices of crop-fallow and monocropping have reduced soil health and quality as well as crop yield due to increased soil erosion and organic matter mineralization and increased incidences of weeds and pests in the Loess Plateau of China. Diversified crop rotations containing legumes, nonlegumes, and perennial forages are needed to enhance carbon sequestration and soil health and sustain crop yields compared with traditional cropping systems. We evaluated the effect of 30-year-old diversified crop rotations on soil carbon fractions at 0- to 15- and 15- to 30-cm depths in the Loess Plateau of China. Crop rotations were continuous winter wheat (W); 3-yr rotations of corn-winter wheat-winter wheat-millet (CWWM), pea-winter wheat-winter wheat-millet (PWWM), and sainfoin-winter wheat-winter wheat-sainfoin (SWWS); 4-yr rotation of pea-winter wheat-winter wheat-corn (PWWC); and 8-yr rotation of alfalfa (4 yr)-potato (1 yr)-winter wheat (3 yr) (A4PoW3). A fallow (F) treatment was also included for comparison. Carbon fractions were soil organic carbon (SOC), particulate organic carbon (POC), potential carbon mineralization (PCM), and microbial biomass carbon (MBC). At both depths, SOC was greater in A4PoW3 than other crop rotations, except CWWM and PWWC. At 0 to 15 cm, POC was greater in CWWM and at 15 to 30 cm was greater in A4PoW3 than other crop rotations. At both depths, PCM was greater in CWWM and PWWC than F and W and MBC was greater in PWWC than other crop rotations. Carbon fractions increased with increased rotation lengths. Annualized crop yields were also higher with crop rotations than W. Diversified crop rotations with increased residue production and longer year rotations enhanced soil carbon sequestration and microbial biomass and activity compared with monocropping and fallow. Long-term diversified crop rotations can increase carbon storage, soil health and quality, and crop yields compared with traditional practices in the Loess Plateau of China

Technical Abstract: Diversified crop rotations may enhance C fractions and soil quality by affecting the quality and quantity of crop residue returned to the soil compared with monocropping and fallow. We evaluated the effect of 30-yr-old diversified crop rotations on soil C fractions at 0- to 15- and 15- to 30-cm depths in the Loess Plateau of China. Crop rotations were continuous winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) (W); 3-yr rotations of corn (Zea mays L.)-winter wheat-winter wheat-millet (Eleusine coracana L.) (CWWM), pea (Pisum sativum L.)-winter wheat-winter wheat-millet (PWWM), and sainfoin (Onobrychis viciifolia Scop.)-winter wheat-winter wheat-sainfoin (SWWS); 4-yr rotation of pea-winter wheat-winter wheat-corn (PWWC); and 8-yr rotation of alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) (4 yr)-potato (solanum tuberosum L.) (1 yr)-winter wheat (3 yr) (A4PoW3). A fallow (F) treatment was also included for comparison. Carbon fractions were soil organic C (SOC), particulate organic C (POC), potential C mineralization (PCM), and microbial biomass C (MBC). At both depths, SOC was greater in A4PoW3 than other crop rotations, except CWWM and PWWC. At 0 to 15 cm, POC was greater in CWWM and at 15 to 30 cm was greater in A4PoW3 than other crop rotations. At both depths, PCM was greater in CWWM and PWWC than F and W and MBC was greater in PWWC than other crop rotations. Carbon fractions increased with increased rotation lengths. Diversified crop rotations with increased residue production and longer year rotations enhanced soil C sequestration and microbial biomass and activity compared with monocropping and fallow.