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Long-Term Durum Wheat-Based Cropping Systems Result in the Rapid Saturation of Soil Carbon in the Mediterranean Semi-arid Environment

  • Autori: Novara, A.; Poma, I.; Sarno, M.; Venezia, G.; Gristina, L.
  • Anno di pubblicazione: 2016
  • Tipologia: Articolo in rivista (Articolo in rivista)
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Climate, soil physical-chemical characteristics, land management, and carbon (C) input from crop residues greatly affect soil organic carbon (SOC) sequestration. According to the concept of SOC saturation, the ability of SOC to increase with C input decreases as SOC increases and approaches a SOC saturation level. In a 12-year experiment, six semi-arid cropping systems characterized by different rates of C input to soil were compared for ability to sequester SOC, SOC saturation level, and the time necessary to reach the SOC saturation level. SOC stocks, soil aggregate sizes, and C inputs were measured in durum wheat monocropping with (Ws) and without (W) return of aboveground residue to the soil and in the following cropping systems without return of aboveground residue to soil: durum wheat/fallow (Wfall), durum wheat/berseem clover, durum wheat/barley/faba bean, and durum wheat/Hedysarum coronarium. The C sequestration rate and SOC content were lowest in Wfall plots but did not differ among the other cropping systems. The C sequestration rate ranged from 0.47MgC ha-1y-1 in Ws plots to 0.66MgCha-1y-1 in W plots but was negative (-0.06MgCha-1y-1) in Wfall plots. Increases in SOC were related to C input up to a SOC saturation value; over this value, further C inputs did not lead to SOC increase. Across all cropping systems, the C saturation value for the experimental soil was 57.7Mgha-1, which was reached with a cumulative C input of 15Mgha-1.