Biogeochemistry

, Volume 120, Issue 1–3, pp 71–87 | Cite as

Estimating the organic carbon stabilisation capacity and saturation deficit of soils: a New Zealand case study

  • M. H. Beare
  • S. J. McNeill
  • D. Curtin
  • R. L. Parfitt
  • H. S. Jones
  • M. B. Dodd
  • J. Sharp
Article

Abstract

The capacity of a soil to sequester organic carbon can, in theory, be estimated as the difference between the existing soil organic C (SOC) concentration and the SOC saturation value. The C saturation concept assumes that each soil has a maximum SOC storage capacity, which is primarily determined by the characteristics of the fine mineral fraction (i.e. <20 µm clay + fine silt fraction). Previous studies have focussed on the mass of fine fractions as a predictor of soil C stabilisation capacity. Our objective was to compare single- and multi-variable statistical approaches for estimating the upper limit of C stabilisation based on measureable properties of the fine mineral fraction [e.g. fine fraction mass and surface area (SA), aluminium (Al), iron (Fe), pH] using data from New Zealand’s National Soils Database. Total SOC ranged from 0.65 to 138 mg C g−1, median values being 44.4 mg C g−1 at 0–15 cm depth and 20.5 mg C g−1 at 15–30 cm depth. Results showed that SA of mineral particles was more closely correlated with the SOC content of the fine fraction than was the mass proportion of the fine fraction, indicating that it provided a much better basis for estimating SOC stabilisation capacity. The maximum C loading rate (mg C m−2) for both Allophanic and non-Allophanic soils was best described by a log/log relationship between specific SA and the SOC content of the fine fraction. A multi-variate regression that included extractable Al and soil pH along with SA provided the “best fit” model for predicting SOC stabilisation. The potential to store additional SOC (i.e. saturation deficit) was estimated from this multivariate equation as the difference between the median and 90th percentile SOC content of each soil. There was strong evidence from the predicted saturation deficit values and their associated 95 % confidence limits that nearly all soils had a saturation deficit >0. The median saturation deficit for both Allophanic and non-Allophanic soils was 12 mg C g−1 at 0–15 cm depth and 15 mg C g−1 at 15–30 cm depths. Improving predictions of the saturation deficit of soils may be important to developing and deploying effective SOC sequestration strategies.

Keywords

Soil organic carbon Soil carbon stabilisation Soil carbon saturation deficit Fine mineral particles Quantile regression 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Funding was provided by the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre, Plant and Food Research’s Land Use Change and Intensification Programme and the New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (contract number C02X0812). We are grateful to Frank Kelliher and David Whitehead for scientific advice and encouragement.

References

  1. Amelung W, Zech W, Zhang X, Follett RF, Tiessen H, Knox E, Flach KW (1998) Carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur pools in particle-size fractions as influenced by climate. Soil Sci Soc Am J 62(1):172–181CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Angers DA, Arrouays D, Saby NPA, Walter C (2011) Estimating and mapping the carbon saturation deficit of French agricultural topsoils. Soil Use Manag 27:448–452CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Baisden WT, Parfitt RL, Ross C, Schipper LA, Canessa S (2011) Evaluating 50 years of time-series soil radiocarbon data: towards routine calculation of robust C turnover rates. Biogeochemistry. doi: 10.1007/s10533-011-9675-y Google Scholar
  4. Baldock JA, Skjemstad JO (2000) Role of the soil matrix and minerals in protecting natural organic materials against biological attack. Org Geochem 31:697–710CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Balesdent J (1996) The significance of organic separates to carbon dynamics and its modelling in some cultivated soils. Eur J Soil Sci 47:485–493CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Balesdent J, Besnard E, Arrouays D, Chenu C (1998) The dynamics of carbon in particle-size fractions of soil in a forest-cultivation sequence. Plant Soil 201(1):49–57CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Barthès BG, Kouakoua E, Larré-Larrouy MC, Razafimbelo TM, de Luca EF, Azontonde A, Neves C, de Freitas PL, Feller CL (2008) Texture and sesquioxide effects on water-stable aggregates and organic matter in some tropical soils. Geoderma 143(1–2):14–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bishop TFA, McBratney AB, Laslett GM (1999) Modelling soil attribute depth functions with equal-area quadratic smoothing splines. Geoderma 91:27–45CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Blakemore LC, Searle PL, Daly BK (1987) Methods for chemical analysis of soils. New Zealand Soil Bureau Scientific Report number 80Google Scholar
  10. Bosatta E, Agren GI (1997) Theoretical analyses of soil texture effects on organic matter dynamics. Soil Biol Biochem 29:1633–1638CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Burnham KP, Anderson DR (2002) Model selection and multimodel inference: a practical information-theoretic approach, 2nd edn. Springer, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  12. Buyanovsky GA, Aslam M, Wagner GH (1994) Carbon turnover in soil physical fractions. Soil Sci Soc Am J 58:1167–1173CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Campbell CA, Bowren KE, Schnitzer M, Zentner RP, Townleysmith L (1991) Effect of crop rotations and fertilization on soil organic matter and some biochemical properties of a thick Black Chernozem. Can J Soil Sci 71(3):377–387CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Chung HG, Grove JH, Six J (2008) Indications for soil carbon saturation in a temperate agroecosystem. Soil Sci Soc Am J 72(4):1132–1139CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Chung HG, Ngo KJ, Plante AF, Six J (2010) Evidence for carbon saturation in a highly structured and organic-matter-rich soil. Soil Sci Soc Am J 74(1):130–138CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Claydon JJ (1989) Determination of particle-size distribution in fine-grained soils pipette method. Division of Land and Soil Sciences Technical Record LH5. DSIR, WellingtonGoogle Scholar
  17. Denef K, Six J, Merckx R, Paustian K (2004) Carbon sequestration in microaggregates of no-tillage soils with different clay mineralogy. Soil Sci Soc Am J 68(6):1935–1944CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Dungait JAJ, Hopkins DW, Gregory AS, Whitmore AP (2012) Soil organic matter turnover is governed by accessibility not recalcitrance. Glob Change Biol 18:1781–1796CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Elliott JA, Dejong E (1993) Prediction of field denitrification rates: a boundary line approach. Soil Sci Soc Am J 57(1):82–87CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Feller C, Beare MH (1997) Physical control of soil organic matter dynamics in the tropics. Geoderma 79(1–4):69–116CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Feng W, Plante AF, Six J (2011) Improving estimates of maximal organic carbon stabilization by fine soil particles. Biogeochemistry. doi: 10.1007/s10533-011-9679-7 Google Scholar
  22. Gregorich EG, Beare MH, McKim UF, Skjemstad JO (2006) Chemical and biological characteristics of physically uncomplexed organic matter. Soil Sci Soc Am J 70(3):975–985CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hassink J (1997) The capacity of soils to preserve organic C and N by their association with clay and silt particles. Plant Soil 191:77–87CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hassink J, Whitmore AP (1997) A model of the physical protection of organic matter in soils. Soil Sci Soc Am J 61:131–139CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hedley CB, Saggar S, Theng BKG, Whitton JS (2000) Surface area of soils of contrasting mineralogies using para-nitrophenol adsorption and its relation to air-dry moisture content of soils. Aust J Soil Res 38:155–167CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hewitt AE (2010) New Zealand soil classification, 3rd edn. Manaaki Whenua Press, CanterburyGoogle Scholar
  27. Homann P, Kapchinske JS, Boyce A (2007) Relations of mineral-soil C and N to climate and texture: regional differences within the conterminous USA. Biogeochemistry 85:303–316CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Jolivet C, Arrouays D, Lévêque J, Andreux F, Chenu C (2003) Organic carbon dynamics in soil particle-size separates of sandy Spodosols when forest is cleared for maize cropping. Eur J Soil Sci 54:257–268CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kahle M, Kleber M, Jahn R (2002a) Carbon storage in loess derived surface soils from Central Germany: influence of mineral phase variables. J Plant Nutr Soil Sci-Z Pflanzenernahr Bodenkd 165(2):141–149CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kahle M, Kleber M, Jahn R (2002b) Predicting carbon content in illitic clay fractions from surface area, cation exchange capacity and dithionite-extractable iron. Eur J Soil Sci 53(4):639–644CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kahle M, Kleber M, Torn MS, Jahn R (2003) Carbon storage in coarse and fine clay fractions of illitic soils. Soil Sci Soc Am J 67(6):1732–1739CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kaiser K, Guggenberger G (2003) Mineral surfaces and soil organic matter. Eur J Soil Sci 54(2):219–236CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Keil RG, Tsamakis E, Fuh CB, Giddings JC, Hedges JI (1994) Mineralogical and textural controls on the organic composition of coastal marine-sediments—hydrodynamic separation using SPLITT-fractionation. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 58(2):879–893CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Koenker R (2005) Quantile regression. Cambridge University Press, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Liang AZ, Yang XM, Zhang XP, McLaughlin N, Shen Y, Li WF (2009) Soil organic carbon changes in particle-size fractions following cultivation of Black soils in China. Soil Tillage Res 105(1):21–26CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Malone BP, McBratney AB, Minasny B, Laslett GM (2009) Mapping continuous depth functions of soil carbon storage and available water capacity. Geoderma 154(1–2):138–152CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Matus F, Amigo X, Kristiansen SM (2006) Aluminium stabilization controls organic carbon levels in Chilean volcanic soils. Geoderma 132:158–168CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Matus F, Garrido E, Sepulveda N, Carcamo I, Panichina M, Zagal E (2008) Relationship between extractable Al and organic C in volcanic soils of Chile. Geoderma 148:180–188CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Mayer LM (1994) Relationships between mineral surfaces and organic carbon concentrations in soils and sediments. Chem Geol 114:347–363CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Mayer LM (1999) Extent of coverage of mineral surfaces by organic matter in marine sediments. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 63:207–215CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Mayer LM, Xing BS (2001) Organic matter–surface area relationships in acid soils. Soil Sci Soc Am J 65(1):250–258CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Milne AE, Wheeler HC, Lark RM (2006) On testing biological data for the presence of a boundary. Ann Appl Biol 149(2):213–222CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Mitchell JK, Soga K (2005) Fundamentals of soil behavior. Wiley, HobokenGoogle Scholar
  44. Officer SJ, Tillman RW, Palmer AS, Whitton JS (2006) Variability of clay mineralogy in two New Zealand steep-land topsoils under pasture. Geoderma 132:427–440CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Parfitt RL (2009) Allophane and imogolite: role in soil biogeochemical processes. Clay Miner 44:135–155CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Parfitt RL, Childs CW (1988) Estimation of forms of Fe and Al—a review and analysis of contrasting soils using dissolution and Mossbauer methods. Aust J Soil Res 26:121–144CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Parfitt RL, Whitton JS, Theng BKG (2001) Surface reactivity of A horizons towards polar compounds estimated from water absorption and water content. Aust J Soil Res 39:1105–1110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Parfitt RL, Parshotam A, Salt GJ (2002) Carbon turnover in two soils with contrasting mineralogy under long-term maize and pasture. Aust J Soil Res 40:127–136CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Parfitt RL, Baisden WT, Ross CW, Rosser BJ, Schipper LA, Barry B (2013) Influence of erosion and deposition on carbon and nitrogen accumulation in resampled steepland soils under pasture in New Zealand. Geoderma 192:154–159CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Percival HJ, Parfitt RL, Scott NA (2000) Factors controlling soil carbon levels in New Zealand grasslands: is clay content important? Soil Sci Soc Am J 64:1623–1630CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Schmidt U, Thöni H, Kaupenjohann M (2000) Using a boundary line approach to analyze N2O flux data from agricultural soils. Nutr Cycl Agroecosyst 57(2):119–129CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Schnug E, Heym J, Achwan F (1996) Establishing critical values for soil and plant analysis by means of the boundary line development system (BOLIDES). Commun Soil Sci Plant Anal 27(13–14):2739–2748CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Schulten HR, Leinweber P (2000) New insights into organic mineral particles: composition, properties and models of molecular structure. Biol Fertil Soils 30(5–6):399–432CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Scott NA, Cole CV (1996) Soil textural control on decomposition and soil organic matter dynamics. Soil Sci Soc Am J 60:1102–1109CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Six J, Conant RT, Paul EA, Paustian K (2002) Stabilization mechanisms of soil organic matter: implications for C-saturation of soils. Plant Soil 241:155–176CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Skjemstad JO, Spouncer LR, Cowie B, Swift RS (2004) Calibration of the Rothamsted organic carbon turnover model (RothC ver. 26.3) using measurable soil organic carbon pools. Aust J Soil Res 42:79–88CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Soil Survey Staff (2010) Keys to soil taxonomy, 11th edn. United States Department of Agriculture. http://soils.usda.gov/technical/classification/tax_keys/. Accessed 11 May 2012
  58. Sollins P, Homann P, Caldwell BA (1996) Stabilization and destabilization of soil organic matter: mechanisms and controls. Geoderma 74(1–2):65–105CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Stewart CE, Paustian K, Conant RT, Plante A, Six J (2007) Soil carbon saturation: concept, evidence and evaluation. Biogeochemistry 86:19–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Surapaneni A, Palmer AS, Tillman RW, Kirkman JH, Gregg PEH (2002) The mineralogy and potassium supplying power of some loessial and related soils of New Zealand. Geoderma 110:191–204CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Theng BKG, Ristori GG, Santi CA, Percival HJ (1999) An improved method for determining the specific surface areas of topsoils with varied organic matter content, texture and clay mineral composition. Eur J Soil Sci 50:309–316CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. von Lützow M, Kögel-Knabner I, Ekschmitt K, Matzner E, Guggenberger G, Marschner B, Flessa H (2006) Stabilization of organic matter in temperate soils: mechanisms and their relevance under different soil conditions a review. Eur J Soil Sci 57:426–445CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Wagai R, Mayer LM, Kitayama K (2009) Extent and nature of organic coverage of soil mineral surfaces assessed by a gas sorption approach. Geoderma 149(1–2):152–160CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Webb RA (1972) Use of boundary line in analysis of biological data. J Hortic Sci Biotechnol 47(3):309–320Google Scholar
  65. Wilde RH (2003) Manual for national soils database. Landcare Research Report, July 2003. http://landcareresearch.co.nz/databases/nsd_manual_v1.pdf
  66. Wiseman CLS, Püttmann W (2005) Soil organic carbon and its sorptive preservation in central Germany. Eur J Soil Sci 56(1):65–76CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Zhao LP, Sun YJ, Zhang XP, Yang XM, Drury CF (2006) Soil organic carbon in clay and silt sized particles in Chinese mollisols: relationship to the predicted capacity. Geoderma 132(3–4):315–323CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Zinn YL, Lal R, Bigham JM, Resck DVS (2007) Edaphic controls on soil organic carbon retention in the Brazilian Cerrado: texture and mineralogy. Soil Sci Soc Am J 71(4):1204–1214CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. H. Beare
    • 1
  • S. J. McNeill
    • 2
  • D. Curtin
    • 1
  • R. L. Parfitt
    • 2
  • H. S. Jones
    • 3
    • 4
  • M. B. Dodd
    • 5
  • J. Sharp
    • 1
  1. 1.Sustainable Production PortfolioNew Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research LimitedChristchurchNew Zealand
  2. 2.Landcare ResearchPalmerston NorthNew Zealand
  3. 3.ScionRotoruaNew Zealand
  4. 4.Waikato Regional CouncilHamiltonNew Zealand
  5. 5.AgResearch LimitedGrasslands Research CentrePalmerston NorthNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations