, Volume 49, Issue 8, pp 1179-1188

Carbon input from 13C-labeled crops in four soil organic matter fractions

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Abstract

This study quantified the fate of new carbon (C) in four crop sequences (lentil–wheat, canola–wheat, pea–wheat, and continuous wheat). Lentil–wheat and continuous wheat were grown in intact soil cores from a Brown Chernozem (BCz) and canola–wheat, pea–wheat, and continuous wheat in cores from a Dark Brown Chernozem (DBCz). In the first growing cycle, plants were pulse-labeled with 13C-CO2. Soil 13C pools were measured once after the labeled growing cycle to quantify root biomass contribution to soil organic matter (SOM) in a single cycle and again after a second growing cycle to quantify the fate of labeled root and shoot residues. 13C was quantified in four SOM fractions: very light (VLF), light (LF), heavy (HF), and water extractable organic matter (WEOM). For BCz lentil, BCz wheat, DBCz canola, DBCz pea, and DBCz wheat in the labeling year, root-derived C estimates were 838, 572, 512, 397, and 418 mg of C per kg soil, respectively. At the end of the second growing cycle, decreases in root-derived C were greater in the VLF, which lost 62 to 95 % of its labeled 13C, than the LF (lost 21 to 56 %) or HF (lost 20 to 47 %). Root-derived C in WEOM increased 38 to 319 %. On DBCz, even though wheat and pea produced less aboveground biomass than canola, they generated similar amounts of SOC by fraction indicating that their residues were more efficiently stabilized into the soil than canola residues. Combining 13C repeat-pulse labeling and SOM fractionation methods allowed new insights into C dynamics under different crop sequences and soil types. This combination of methods has great potential to improve our understanding of soil fertility and SOM stabilization.