Estimating net primary production from measurements made on soil organic matter

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Jenkinson, D. S., Meredith, J., Kinyamario, J. I., Warren, G. P., Wong, M. T. F., Harkness, D. D., Bol, R. and Coleman, K. 1999. Estimating net primary production from measurements made on soil organic matter. Ecology. 80 (8), pp. 2762-2773.

AuthorsJenkinson, D. S., Meredith, J., Kinyamario, J. I., Warren, G. P., Wong, M. T. F., Harkness, D. D., Bol, R. and Coleman, K.
Abstract

A model for the turnover of organic matter in soil, ROTHC-26.3, can be used to calculate how much organic C needs to enter a soil annually in order to maintain a specified stock of soil organic C. The annual return of organic C thus calculated, plus the amount of organic C removed annually from the site by harvesting, burning, etc., provides an estimate of the Net Primary Production (NPP) of that site, averaged over many years. The new method was used to calculate NPP for two adjacent savanna sites in the Nairobi National Park in Kenya, one grazed and one not, and for a dry Miombo woodland site in Zambia. Both the Kenyan and Zambian sites are taken to be at equilibrium, with soil organic C levels at steady stale. Soils from the three sites were analyzed by layer for organic C, delta(14)C, delta(13)C, soil microbial biomass C, total N, pH, and clay content. Radiocarbon measurements were >100% modern in the surface layers (0-15 cm) of the Kenyan soils (both Vertisols) and in all three layers (0-15, 15-30 and 30-50 cm) of the Zambian soil tan Oxisol), presumably because of (14)C coming from the testing of thermonuclear bombs. The 15-30 cm layer of the Kenyan soils dated at similar to 500 yr and the 30-50 cm layer at similar to 900 yr. The (14)C data were consistent with the presence of a small inert fraction of organic C that accounted for an increasing proportion of total organic C with increasing soil depth. The (13)C data indicated that the Kenyan soils had developed under C, vegetation, whereas the Zambian soils had developed under vegetation dominated by C, plants. From these results the annual input of C to soil from the ungrazed Kenyan site was calculated to be 388 g C . m(-2) . yr(-1), to the grazed site 380 g C . m(-2) . yr(-1), and to the Zambian soil 373 g C . m(-2) . yr(-1). Taking the loss of C from the Kenyan sites by burning to be 40 g C . m(-2) . yr(-1), the mean NPP for both Kenyan sites is 424 g C , m(-2) . yr(-1). This value for NPP is compatible with earlier estimates of NPP by botanical methods from the same site in Kenya. Wood-taking is thought to be minimal in the protected Zambian woodland, so that here the annual input of C to the soil can be taken as the NPP without great error. This new method provides a long-term, integrated measure of NPP that should complement and enhance productivity measurements made by harvest methods over shorter periods.

KeywordsMiombo woodland; Zambia; Nairobi National Park; Kenya; net primary production (NPP); Oxisol; Rothamsted carbon turnover model; savanna; soil delta C-13; soil organic C; soil radiocarbon age; Vertisol
Year of Publication1999
JournalEcology
Journal citation80 (8), pp. 2762-2773
Open accessPublished as non-open access
Funder project or codeDelivering Sustainable Systems (SS) [ISPG]
108
444
ISSN00129658
PublisherWiley

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