Effect of farm management on topsoil organic carbon and aggregate stability in water: A case study from Southwest England, UK

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Collier, S. M., Green, S. M., Inman, A., Hopkins, D. W., Kendall, H., Jahn, M. M. and Dungait, J. A. J. 2020. Effect of farm management on topsoil organic carbon and aggregate stability in water: A case study from Southwest England, UK. Soil Use and Management. https://doi.org/10.1111/sum.12658

AuthorsCollier, S. M., Green, S. M., Inman, A., Hopkins, D. W., Kendall, H., Jahn, M. M. and Dungait, J. A. J.
Abstract

There are few reliable data sets to inspire confidence in policymakers that soil or-ganic carbon (SOC) can be measured on farms. We worked with farmers in the Tamar Valley region of southwest England to select sampling sites under similar conditions (soil type, aspect and slope) and management types. Topsoils (2–15 cm) were sam-pled in autumn 2015, and percentage soil organic matter (%SOM) was determined by loss on ignition and used to calculate %SOC. We also used the stability of mac-roaggregates in cold water (WSA) (‘soil slaking’) as a measure of ‘soil health’ and investigated its relationship with SOC in the clay-rich soils. %SOM was significantly different between management types in the order woodland (11.1%) = permanent pasture (9.5%) > ley-arable rotation (7.7%) = arable (7.3%). This related directly to SOC stocks that were larger in fields under permanent pasture and woodland com-pared with those under arable or ley-arable rotation whether corrected for clay con-tent (F = 8.500, p < .0001) or not (F = 8.516, p < .0001). WSA scores were strongly correlated with SOC content whether corrected for clay content (SOCadjR2 = .571, p < .0001) or not (SOCunadjR2 = 0.490, p = .002). Time since tillage controlled SOC stocks and WSA scores, accounting for 75.5% and 51.3% of the total variation, respectively. We conclude that (1) SOC can be reliably measured in farmed soils using accepted protocols and related to land management and (2) WSA scores can be rapidly measured in clay soils and related to SOC stocks and soil management.

KeywordsAggregate stability; Agriculture; Carbon sequestration; Management type; Soil health; Tillage
Year of Publication2020
JournalSoil Use and Management
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1111/sum.12658
Open accessPublished as non-open access
FunderBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Funder project or codeMaximising carbon retention in soils
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online02 Nov 2020
Publication process dates
Accepted23 Sep 2020
ISSN0266-0032
PublisherBritish Society of Soil Science (BSSS)

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