Post-farming land restoration schemes exhibit higher soil aggregate stability and organic carbon: Evidence in the Three Gorges Reservoir Area, China

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Han, C., Song, M., Tang, Q, Wei, J., He, X. and Collins, A. L. 2023. Post-farming land restoration schemes exhibit higher soil aggregate stability and organic carbon: Evidence in the Three Gorges Reservoir Area, China. Catena. 227, p. 107099. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.catena.2023.107099

AuthorsHan, C., Song, M., Tang, Q, Wei, J., He, X. and Collins, A. L.
Abstract

The Three Gorges Reservoir Area was dominated by a farming landscape but has been the target of restorative land management schemes over recent decades, wherein croplands have been converted to forests or citrus woodlands run by commercial enterprises or, alternatively, abandoned for natural vegetation succession. How these ongoing restorative land management schemes imprint soil systems remains poorly understood. Accordingly, in this study, a space-for-time substitution approach was applied to compare soil aggregate stability and organic carbon stocks between lands used for ongoing arable production and areas subjected to restorative practices. Composite soil samples from reforestation woodlands, abandoned croplands, citrus woodlands, and present-day croplands were collected, and a variety of soil metrics (i.e., water-stable aggregate percentage, mean weight diameter, geometric mean diameter, erosion resistance of the aggregates, bulk soil organic carbon and aggregate-specific soil organic carbon) were used as a basis for comparison. Reforestation woodlands and abandoned croplands exhibited a higher mass percentage of macro-aggregates, higher values of mean weight diameter and geometric mean diameter, and higher organic carbon content within the sampled 0–40 cm depth soil profiles. Reforestation and cropland abandonment significantly increased the stability of soil aggregates and organic carbon stocks. Moreover, abandoned cropland samples exhibited higher soil aggregate stability and organic carbon stocks than reforestation woodlands. In contrast, soil aggregate stability for all sampled soil depths and organic carbon content except for the topsoil (0–10 cm) of citrus woodlands exhibited lower values than those for present day croplands. Exclusion of crop farming and reestablishment of restorative vegetation have therefore contributed to changes in soil physical structure and organic carbon stocks, with reforestation and cropland abandonment being more beneficial for soil aggregate stability and soil organic carbon stocks in the Three Gorges Reservoir Area.

KeywordsLand use conversion; Reforestation; Crop abandonment; Farming exclusion; Soil aggregates; Soil organic carbon; Three Gorges Reservoir Area
Year of Publication2023
JournalCatena
Journal citation227, p. 107099
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.catena.2023.107099
Web address (URL)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.catena.2023.107099
Open accessPublished as green open access
FunderBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
National Natural Science Foundation of China
Funder project or codeS2N - Soil to Nutrition - Work package 3 (WP3) - Sustainable intensification - optimisation at multiple scales
Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars of Chongqing
Chongqing Talent Program
Accepted author manuscript
Copyright license
CC BY
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online28 Mar 2023
Publication process dates
Accepted19 Mar 2023
PublisherElsevier Science Bv
ISSN0341-8162

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