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On-farm study reveals positive relationship between gas transport capacity and organic carbon content in arable soil

Colombi, Tino; Walder, Florian; Büchi, Lucie; Sommer, Marlies; Liu, Kexing; Six, Johan; van der Heijden, Marcel G. A.; Charles, Raphael and Keller, Thomas (2019) On-farm study reveals positive relationship between gas transport capacity and organic carbon content in arable soil. Soil, 5 (1), pp. 91-105.

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Document available online at: https://soil.copernicus.org/articles/5/91/2019/


Arable soils may act as a sink in the global carbon cycle, but the prediction of their potential for carbon sequestration remains challenging. Amongst other factors, soil aeration is known to influence root growth and microbial activity and thus inputs and decomposition of soil organic carbon. However, the influence of soil aeration on soil organic carbon content has been explored only little, especially at the farm level. Here, we investigated relationships between gas transport properties and organic carbon content in the topsoil and subsoil of 30 fields of individual farms, covering a wide range of textural composition. The fields were managed either conventionally, organically, or according to no-till practice. Despite considerable overlap between the management systems, we found that tillage increased soil gas transport capability in the topsoil, while organic farming resulted in higher soil organic carbon content. Remarkably, higher gas transport capability was associated with higher soil organic carbon content, both in the topsoil and subsoil (0.53 <R2 < 0.71). Exogenous organic carbon inputs in the form of crop residues and organic amendments, in contrast, were not related to soil organic carbon content. Based on this, we conjecture that higher gas transport capability resulted in improved conditions for root growth, which eventually led to increased input of soil organic carbon. Our findings show the importance of soil aeration for carbon storage in soil and highlight the need to consider aeration in the evaluation of carbon sequestration strategies in cropping systems.

EPrint Type:Journal paper
Keywords:gas exchange, soil organic carbon, arable soils
Agrovoc keywords:
gas exchange
soil organic carbon
arable soils
Subjects: Soil
Research affiliation: Switzerland > Agroscope
Switzerland > ETHZ - Agrarwissenschaften
Switzerland > FiBL - Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland > Soil
Sweden > University of Uppsala
UK > Other organizations
Netherlands > Other organizations
Related Links:http://www.nrp68.ch/en
Deposited By: Charles, Dr. Raphaël
ID Code:37700
Deposited On:30 Sep 2021 12:49
Last Modified:30 Sep 2021 12:49
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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