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Title: Soil carbon is only higher in the surface soil under minimum tillage in Vertosols and Chromosols of New South Wales North-West Slopes and Plains, Australia
Contributor(s): McLeod, M K (author); Schweke, G D (author); Cowie, Annette  (author); Harden, S (author)
Publication Date: 2013
DOI: 10.1071/SR13032
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Abstract: Reduced carbon stock levels in Australian soil due to cropping provide a significant opportunity for carbon sequestration, and the recent initiative to consider soil carbon in domestic emissions trading requires a scientific assessment of soil carbon levels under a range of cropping soil management practices. Some of the previous research in southern and western New South Wales (NSW) showed that the rate of carbon decline in cropping soils is slowed under minimum tillage when the stubble is also retained. However, such comparison is rare in the NSW North-West Slopes and Plains region, particularly on the red soils (Chromosols) which are one of the major soil types in the region. We surveyed 50 dryland Chromosols, 72 dryland Vertosols, and 25 irrigated Vertosols on commercial farms across this region to examine the effects of conventional tillage, minimum tillage, and irrigation on total soil organic carbon. Samples of 0.1 m segments to 0.3 m depth were analysed for total organic carbon and other soil properties. Mid-infrared scans were used to predict the particulate, humus, and resistant soil organic carbon fractions. Bulk density was used to calculate total organic carbon stock for each segment, and equivalent soil mass (ESM) for 0–0.3 m. In Vertosols, for 0–0.3 m ESM, total organic carbon and particulate organic carbon were not different between management practices, whereas humic organic carbon and resistant organic carbon were consistently lower under conventional tillage. However, in 0–0.1 m, total organic carbon was greater under minimum tillage (15.2 Mg ha–1 ) than conventional tillage (11.9 Mg ha–1 ) or irrigation (12.0 Mg ha–1 ), reflecting less soil surface disturbance under minimum tillage. In Chromosols, only total organic carbon was higher under minimum tillage than conventional tillage in the 0–0.3 m ESM (39.8 v. 33.5 Mg ha–1 ) and in 0–0.1 m (19.7 v. 16.9 Mg ha–1 ). The strong influences of rainfall, temperature, bulk density, texture, and management history on soil carbon stocks suggested that these environmental and management factors require further consideration when gauging soil carbon sequestration potential under current and novel tillage practices in key regional locations.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: Soil research, 51(8), p. 680-694
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Place of Publication: Clayton, Australia
ISSN: 1838-675X
Field of Research (FOR): 050301 Carbon Sequestration Science
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
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