, Volume 131, Issue 6, pp 1669-1680,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 22 Feb 2012

High organic carbon stock in a karstic soil of the Middle-European Forest Province persists after centuries-long agroforestry management


Little is known on soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks in karst areas worldwide, although many of them have seen long-term application of agroforestry systems with a potential for carbon sequestration. Therefore, our study aimed to assess landscape-level SOC concentration and stock in the Silica Plateau, a part of the Slovak Karst Biosphere Reserve located in the Western Carpathians (Slovakia) with a centuries-long agroforestry record. The most represented local soil units are Chromi-Rendzic Leptosols and Chromic Cambisols with clayey loam texture, C/N ratio 9–12, and \( {\text{pH}}_{{{\text{H}}_{2} {\text{O}}}} \) 6.6–6.2 in their organo-mineral surface horizons. Mull surface humus form prevails under mixed forest stands dominated by hornbeam (Carpinus betulus L.), oak (Quercus petraea L.), and beech (Fagus sylvatica L.). A total of 2,700 soil samples were collected from 150 soil pits. Both SOC concentrations and stocks were determined for the 0–60 cm mineral soil layer. Soil stoniness was accounted for by means of electrical resistivity tomography. According to the analysis of covariance, cropland SOC concentration (0.026 g g−1) is significantly lower compared to forestland (0.040 g g−1) and pastureland (0.041 g g−1) (P < 0.01). During the period of 130 years after forest clearing, cropland SOC stock has been reduced at an exponential decay rate of ca 0.002 year−1, while the SOC stock in pastureland has increased following land use change from cropland by approximately 30% during the same period of time. Irrespective of land use history, overall SOC stock is high reaching on average 207.4 Mg ha−1, out of which 66% are stored within 0–30 cm and 34% within 30–60 cm soil layers.

This article originates from the international symposium “Managed Forests in Future Landscapes. Implications for Water and Carbon Cycles (COST action FP 0601 FORMAN)”.
Communicated by A. Merino.