AS  Vol.6 No.3 , March 2015
Shifts in Carbon Stocks through Soil Profiles Following Management Change in Intensive Agricultural Systems

Soil carbon content is an important ecosystem property, especially under the ongoing climate change. The stability of soil organic matter (SOM) is controlled by environmental and biological factors including anthropogenic-induced agricultural management change. However, understanding the effects of anthropogenic activities (e.g., intensive agricultural practices) on carbon stability of soil profiles remains a challenge. The objective of this study was to determine the changes in carbon stocks through soil profiles following agricultural management change from grain fields to greenhouse vegetable fields. The sampling sites were located in an intensive vegetable production area in northernChina. A total of 20 pairs of grain fields (GF) and adjacent vegetable fields (VF) within a distance of50 mwere selected. The results showed that soil organic carbon (SOC) storage increased by 10.6 mg C ha-1 in upper soil layers but decreased by 5.3 mg C hm2 indeeper soil layers due to large input of organic manure and chemical fertilizer following the conversion from GF to VF. Conversion to VF also led to increased dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and dissolved organic nitrogen (DON) concentrations. Extremely higher input of chemical N fertilizer in the VF led to the soil C:N ratio decreased by 2.02 times and the -N leached to deeper soils increased by 3.7 times compared to that in the GF. The pH value and microbial biomass carbon (MBC) content were lower in the VF than in the GF. These results indicate that excessive nitrogen application as fertilizers might lead to deeper soil carbon depletion. Reducing nitrogen addition in intensive agricultural systems is thus necessary to reduce soil carbon loss and to maintain a relatively sustainable soil system.

Cite this paper: Lei, B. , Xu, Y. , Tang, Y. and Hauptfleisch, K. (2015) Shifts in Carbon Stocks through Soil Profiles Following Management Change in Intensive Agricultural Systems. Agricultural Sciences, 6, 304-314. doi: 10.4236/as.2015.63031.

[1]   Lal, R. (2004) Soil Carbon Sequestration Impacts on Global Climate Change and Food Security.Science,304, 1623-1627.

[2]   Tilman, D. and Lehman, C. (2001) Human-Caused Environmental Change: Impacts on Plant Diversity and Evolution. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of USA,98, 5433-5440.

[3]   Schmidt, M.W.I., Torn, M.S., Abiven, S., Dittmar, T., Guggenberger, G., Janssens, I.A., Kleber, M., Kogel-Knabner, I., Lehmann, J., Manning, D.A.C., Nannipieri, P., Rasse, D.P., Weiner, S. and Trumbore, S.E. (2011) Persistence of Soil Organic Matter as an Ecosystem Property. Nature,478, 49-54.

[4]   Power, J.F. and Schepers, J.S. (1989) Nitrate Contamination of Groundwater in North America. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment,26, 165-187.

[5]   Guo, J.H., Liu, X.J., Zhang, Y., Shen, J.L., Han, W.X., Zhang, W.F., Christie, P., Goulding, K.W.T., Vitousek, P.M. and Zhang, F.S. (2010) Significant Acidification in Major Chinese Croplands. Science,327, 1008-1010.

[6]   Cao, Z.H., Huang, J.F., Zhang, C.S. and Li, A.F. (2004) Soil Quality Evolution after Land Use Change from Paddy Soil to Vegetable Land. Environmental Geochemistry and Health,26, 97-103.

[7]   Chen, M.Y. (1990) The Accumulation and Harmful Effect of Salt in Greenhouse Soils and Countermeasures. Soil Fertilization,1, 1-7.(In Chinese)

[8]   Li, W.Q., Du, B.H., Luo, H.Y. and Ding, F.J. (1996) The Influences of Greenhouse Cultivation on Soil Microflora. Soils Fertilization,2, 31-33. (In Chinese)

[9]   Lin, X.G., Yin, R., Zhang, H.Y., Huang, J.F., Chen, R.R. and Cao, Z.H. (2004) Changes of Soil Microbiological Properties Caused by Land Use Changing from Rice-Wheat Rotation to Vegetable Cultivation. Environmental Geochemistry and Health,26, 119-128.

[10]   Shi, W.M., Yao, J. and Yan, F. (2009) Vegetable Cultivation under Greenhouse Conditions Leads to Rapid Accumulation of Nutrients, Acidification and Salinity of Soils and Groundwater Contamination in South-Eastern China. Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems,83, 73-84.

[11]   Rumpel, C. and Kogel-Knabner, I. (2011) Deep Soil Organic Matter—A Key but Poorly Understood Component of Terrestrial C Cycle. Plant and Soil,338, 143-158.

[12]   Salome, C., Nunan, N., Pouteau, V., Lerch, T.Z. andChenu, C. (2010) Carbon Dynamics in Top Soil and in Subsoil May Be Controlled by Different Regulatory Mechanisms. Global Change Biology,16, 416-426.

[13]   Batjes, N.H. (1996) Total Carbon and Nitrogen in the Soils of the World. European Journal of Soil Science,47, 151-163.

[14]   Fontaine, S., Barot, S., Barré, P., Bdioui, N., Mary, B. and Rumpel, C. (2007) Stability of Organic Carbon in Deep Soil Layers Controlled by Fresh Carbon Supply. Nature,450, 277-280.

[15]   Mack, M.C., Schuur, E.A.G., Bret-Harte, M.S., Shaver, G.R. and Chapin III, F.S. (2004) Ecosystem Carbon Storage in Arctic Tundra Reduced by Long-Term Nutrient Fertilization. Nature,431, 440-443.

[16]   Jones, D.L. andWillett, V.B. (2006) Experimental Evaluation of Methods to Quantify Dissolved Organic Nitrogen (DON) and Dissolved Organic Carbon (DOC) in Soil. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 38, 991-999.

[17]   Dang, Y.A., Li, S.Q. and Wang, G.D. (2007) Distribution Characteristics of Soil Total Nitrogen and Soil Microbial Biomass Nitrogen for the Typical Types of Soils on the Loess Plateau. Plant Nutrition and Fertilizer Science,13, 1020 -1027.

[18]   Bolinder, M.A., Janzen, H.H. and Gregorich, E.G. (2007) An Approach for Estimating Net Primary Productivity and Annual Carbon Inputs to Soil for Common Agricultural Crops in Canada. Agriculture,Ecosystems and Environment,118, 29-42.

[19]   Chaves, B., Neve, S. and Hofman, G. (2004) Nitrogen Mineralization of Vegetable Root Residues and Green Manures as Related to Their (Bio)Chemical Composition. European Journal ofAgronomy,21, 161-170.

[20]   He, F.F. (2006) Nitrogen Management and Environmental Effect Greenhouse Tomato Production System. PhD Dissertation of China Agricultural University, Beijing,61-72.

[21]   Liu, X.J., Zhang, Y., Han, W.X., Tang, A.H. and Shen, J.L. (2013) Enhanced Nitrogen Deposition over China. Nature,494, 459-462.

[22]   Fan, M.S. (2005) Integrated Plant Nutrient Management for Rice-Upland Crop Rotation System. PhD. Dissertation of China Agricultural University, Beijing, 81-93.

[23]   Bragazza, L., Freeman, C., Jones, T., Rydin, H., Limpens, J., Fenner, N., Ellis, T., Gerdol, R., Hájek, M., Hájek, T., Lacumin, P., Kutnar, L., Tahvanainen, T. and Toberman, H. (2006) Atmospheric Nitrogen Deposition Promotes Carbon Loss from Peat Bogs. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of USA,103, 19386-19389.

[24]   Cleveland, C.C. and Townsend, A.R. (2006) Nutrient Additions to a Tropical Rain Forest Drive Substantial Soil Carbon Dioxide Losses to the Atmosphere. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of USA,103, 10316-10321.

[25]   Kramer, S.B., Reganold, J.P., Glover, J.D., Bohannan, B.J.M. and Mooney, H.A. (2006) Reduced Nitrate Leaching and Enhanced Denitrifier Activity and Efficiency in Organically Fertilized Soils. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of USA,103, 4522-4527.

[26]   Reay, D.S., Dentener, F., Smith, P., Grace, J. andFeely, R.A. (2008) Global Nitrogen Deposition and Carbon Sinks. Nature Geoscience,1, 430-437.

[27]   Janssens, I.A., Dieleman, W., Luyssaert, S., Subke, J.A., Reichstein, M., Ceulemans, R., Ciais, P., Dolman, A.J., Grace, J., Matteucci, G., Papale, D., Piao, S.L., Schulze, E.D., Tang, J. and Law, B.E. (2010) Reduction of Forest Soil Respiration in Response to Nitrogen Deposition. Nature Geoscience,3, 315-322.

[28]   Xu, C., Liang, C., Wullschleger, S., Wilson, C. and McDowell, N. (2011) Importance of Feedback Loops between Soil Inorganic Nitrogen and Microbial Communities in the Heterotrophic Soil Respiration Response to Global Warming. Nature Reviews Microbiology,9, 222-223.

[29]   Well, R., Hoper, H., Mehranfar, O. and Meyer, K. (2005) Denitrification in the Saturated Zone of Hydromorphic Soils—Laboratory Measurement, Regulating Factors and Stochastic Modeling. Soil Biology and Biochemistry,37, 1822-1836.

[30]   Lauber, C.L., Strickland, M.S., Bradford, M.A. and Fierer, N. (2008) The Influence of Soil Properties on the Structure of Bacterial and fungal Communities across Land-Use Types. Soil Biology and Biochemistry,40, 2407-2415.

[31]   Fierer, N., Bradford, M.A. and Jackson, R.B. (2007) Toward an Ecological Classification of Soil Bacteria. Ecology,88, 1354-1364.

[32]   Moore, J.C. (2003) Top-Down Is Bottom-Up: Does Predation in the Rhizosphere Regulate Aboveground Dynamics? Ecology,84, 846-857.[0846:TIBDPI]2.0.CO;2

[33]   Ramirez, K.S., Lauber, C.L., Knight, R., Bradford, M.A. and Fierer, N. (2010) Consistent Effects of Nitrogen Fertilization on Soil Bacterial Communities in Contrasting Systems. Ecology,91, 3463-3470.

[34]   Parton, W., Silver, W.L., Burke, I.C., Grassens, L., Harmon, M.E., Currie, W.S., King, J.Y., Adair, E.C., Brandt, L.A., Hart, S.C. and Fasth, B. (2007) Global-Scale Similarities in Nitrogen Release Patterns during Long-Term Decomposition. Science,315, 361-364.

[35]   Thomsen, I.K., Petersen, B.M., Bruun, S., Jensen, L.S. and Christensen, B.T. (2008) Estimating Soil C Loss Potentials from the C to N Ratio. Soil Biology and Biochemistry,40, 849-852.