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Loss of soil organic carbon in Swiss long-term agricultural experiments over a wide range of management practices

Keel, Sonja G.; Anken, Thomas; Büchi, Lucie; Chervet, Andreas; Fliessbach, Andreas; Flisch, René; Huguenin-Elie, Olivier; Mäder, Paul; Mayer, Jochen; Sinaj, Sokrat; Sturmy, Wolfgang; Wüst-Galley, Chloé; Zihlmann, Urs and Leifeld, Jens (2019) Loss of soil organic carbon in Swiss long-term agricultural experiments over a wide range of management practices. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 286, p. 106654.

[thumbnail of keel-etal-2019-AgriEcosysEnviron-Vol286-p106654.pdf] PDF - English

Document available online at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0167880919302701


Soil carbon sequestration (SCS) is one of the cheapest and technically least demanding carbon dioxide (CO2) removal (CDR) or negative CO2 emission technologies. For a realistic assessment of SCS, it is critical to evaluate how much carbon (C) can be stored in soil organic matter under actual agricultural practices. This includes typical crop rotations and fertilization strategies, depends on resources that are available (e.g. farmyard manure (FYM)) and are affordable for farmers. Furthermore, it is important to assess SCS based on given climatic and soil conditions. Here, we evaluate changes in soil C storage for Switzerland using data from eleven long-term field experiments on cropland and permanent grassland that include common local practices.
At all sites, changes in soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks were measured in topsoil (∼0-0.2 m) in response to a total of 80 different treatments including different types of mineral or organic fertilization (e.g. FYM, slurry, peat, compost) or soil management (tillage vs. no-till). The treatments were applied to different, diverse crop rotations or grass mixtures that are representative for Switzerland. We found that topsoils lost C at an average rate of 0.29 Mg C ha−1 yr−1, although many of the investigated treatments were expected to lead to SOC increases. Based on a linear mixed effects model we showed that SOC change rates (ΔSOC) were driven by C inputs to soil (harvest residues and organic fertilizer), soil cover and initial SOC stocks. The type of land use or soil tillage had no significant effect. Our analysis suggests that current efforts to manage soils sustainably need to be intensified and complemented with further techniques if Switzerland wants to achieve the goal of the 4 per 1000 initiative.

EPrint Type:Journal paper
Keywords:Soil carbon sequestration, Organic amendments, Crop rotation, Cover crops, Permanent grassland, Fertilization, 4p1000, long-term experiments
Subjects: Soil > Soil quality
"Organics" in general > Countries and regions > Switzerland
Research affiliation: Switzerland > Agroscope
Switzerland > FiBL - Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland > Soil
Switzerland > Other organizations
Deposited By: Fließbach, Dr. Andreas
ID Code:37043
Deposited On:13 Mar 2020 08:54
Last Modified:13 Jan 2021 07:31
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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