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Soil organic matter storage in temperate lowland arable, grassland and woodland topsoil and subsoil

Antony, D., Collins, C. D., Clark, J. M. ORCID: and Sizmur, T. ORCID: (2022) Soil organic matter storage in temperate lowland arable, grassland and woodland topsoil and subsoil. Soil Use and Management, 38 (4). pp. 1532-1546. ISSN 0266-0032

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1111/sum.12801


Soils are the largest terrestrial pool of organic carbon, with up to 50% of soil organic carbon (SOC) stored below 30 cm. Knowledge of the impact of land use on the mechanisms by which SOC is stored in subsoils is critical to developing and delivering strategies to mitigate climate change. We characterised SOC under arable, grassland and deciduous woodland land uses in lowland England to determine how land use affects the mechanisms by which topsoil and subsoil SOC is protected. Soil organic matter (SOM) physical fractionation and ammonium oxalate extractable Al, Fe, and Mn were analysed to elucidate protection mechanisms. Results revealed that the mineral-free particulate organic matter (fPOM) fraction was significantly greater in both the topsoil and subsoil under woodland than under grassland or arable. The mineral associated organic carbon (MinOC) fraction was proportionally greater in the subsoil compared to topsoil under all land uses; with arable > grassland > woodland. These findings indicate that land use affects the extent to which SOC is protected, with woodlands containing a higher proportion of carbon that has less protection from decomposition. Subsoil SOC is protected from decomposition by organo-mineral interactions with amorphous Al, Fe and Mn, and may be susceptible to future pH shifts as a result of land use change. This study highlights the need to consider the impact of land use change on SOC, given policy and public interest in woodland planting for climate change mitigation.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Earth Systems Science
Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Geography and Environmental Science
Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Soil Research Centre
ID Code:104099


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