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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Pullman, Washington » Northwest Sustainable Agroecosystems Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #334099

Research Project: Improving Air Quality, Soil Health and Nutrient Use Efficiency to Increase Northwest Agroecosystem Performance

Location: Northwest Sustainable Agroecosystems Research

Title: Climate change predicted to negatively influence surface soil health of dryland cropping systems in the Inland Pacific Northwest

Author
item MORROW, JASON - WASHINGTON STATE UNIVERSITY
item Huggins, David
item REGANOLD, JOHN - WASHINGTON STATE UNIVERSITY

Submitted to: Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/16/2017
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Soil organic matter (SOM) is a key indicator of agricultural productivity and overall soil health. Currently, dryland cropping systems of the inland Pacific Northwest (iPNW) span a large gradient in mean annual temperature (MAT) and precipitation (MAP). These climatic drivers are major determinants of surface soil organic matter dynamics and storage characteristics. Future climate change projections through 2070 indicate significant shifts in MAT and MAP for the iPNW. We assessed surface (0 to 10 cm) soil organic C and N as well as active and recalcitrant fractions of SOM within long-term experiments representing different tillage regimes and cropping intensities across the current climatic gradient of the iPNW. We discovered that current levels of soil C and N as well as various SOM fractions were positively correlated with MAP and negatively correlated with MAT. Furthermore, these climatic drivers were more influential than either tillage regime or cropping intensity in determining SOM levels and characteristics. Future projections of MAP and MAT derived from 19 climate models for 2030 and 2070 predict significant change over time, and indicate future declines in surface SOM across the iPNW. These results will be useful for producers, NRCS, Conservation Districts and scientists interested in climate change impacts on soil organic matter and health.

Technical Abstract: Soil organic matter (SOM) is a key indicator of agricultural productivity and overall soil health. Currently, dryland cropping systems of the inland Pacific Northwest (iPNW) span a large gradient in mean annual temperature (MAT) and precipitation (MAP). These climatic drivers are major determinants of surface soil organic matter dynamics and storage characteristics. Future climate change projections through 2070 indicate significant shifts in MAT and MAP for the iPNW. We assessed surface (0 to 10 cm) soil organic C and N as well as active and recalcitrant fractions of SOM within long-term experiments representing different tillage regimes and cropping intensities across the current climatic gradient of the iPNW. We discovered that current levels of soil C and N as well as various SOM fractions were positively correlated MAP and negatively correlated with MAT. Furthermore, these climatic drivers were more influential than either tillage regime or cropping intensity in determining SOM levels and characteristics. Soil organic C and total N as well as the hydrolyzable and non-hydrolyzable fractions were negatively correlated with the current ratio of MAT to MAP, called the climate ratio. Future projections of the climate ratio derived from 19 climate models for 2030 and 2070 predict a significant increase over time, thus indicating future declines in surface SOM across the iPNW.