Modelling tillage and nitrogen fertilization effects on soil organic carbon dynamics
Morell Soler, Francisco Joaquín
Arrúe, José Luis
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Agricultural management plays an important role in global warming mitigation due to its effects on soil organic carbon (SOC) dynamics. In Mediterranean agroecosystems, the interactive effects of tillage and N fertilization on SOC storage have scarcely been studied. Hence, we here present a modelling study in which the effects of both tillage and N fertilization on SOC dynamics are investigated. We used SOC and C input data from a long-term (13 years) field study located in northeast Spain, firstly to validate both the Century model and the Rothamsted Carbon (RothC) model and secondly to predict future SOC dynamics until the year 2030. Tillage and N fertilization affected SOC stocks in the 0–30 cm soil layer. However, the interaction of the two factors was not significant. Averaged over the three N fertilization rates, the observed mean SOC stocks in conventional tillage (CT) and no-tillage (NT) were 29.8 and 36.8 Mg C ha−1, respectively. In addition, the observed SOC stocks, averaged for both tillage systems, increased with increasing N rates, with 30.6, 33.5 and 35.8 Mg C ha−1 for the 0, 60 and 120 kg N ha−1 rates, respectively. In general, both the Century model and the RothC model performed well in predicting SOC dynamics. Model predictions showed that in Mediterranean dryland agroecosystems SOC dynamics in the next 20 years would be variable according to the tillage and N fertilization applied. According to these predictions, scenarios with NT and high fertilization rates (e.g., 60–120 kg N ha−1) could lead to significant SOC sequestration and associated CO2 emission offsetting. However, these scenarios with high SOC sequestration rates also showed high mineral N accumulation in the soil profile with its associated environmental side effects.
Is part ofSoil and Tillage Research, 2012, vol. 120, p. 32-39
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