Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems

, Volume 92, Issue 1, pp 107–118 | Cite as

Soil carbon pools under poplar-based agroforestry, rice-wheat, and maize-wheat cropping systems in semi-arid India

  • D. K. BenbiEmail author
  • Kiranvir Brar
  • A. S. Toor
  • Pritpal Singh
  • Hargopal Singh
Original Article


Labile fractions of soil organic C are considered important indicators of soil quality as these can respond rapidly to land-use changes and agricultural management. We studied the impact of three different land-use systems viz. poplar-based agroforestry involving wheat-legume rotation, rice-wheat and maize-wheat agroecosystems, on dynamics of total organic C (TOC), oxidisable soil organic C (SOC), very labile, labile, less labile, and recalcitrant C fractions, water extractable organic carbon (WEOC), hot water soluble C (HWC), microbial biomass C (MBC), and mineralizable C in the semi-arid subtropical India. The maize-wheat and agroforestry systems had 65–88% higher SOC stocks than the rice-wheat system and were characterized by predominantly labile C. About 56–60% of the total organic C in maize-wheat and agroforestry systems occurred as labile and very labile C compared to 37% under rice-wheat rotation. Contrarily, the majority of organic C (63%) in rice-wheat soils was stabilized in less labile and recalcitrant forms. The HWC and MBC were also higher in maize-wheat and agroforestry systems as opposed to the rice-wheat system. In the discriminant function analysis, a composite of indicators involving TOC, recalcitrant C and total N correctly distinguished the soils under the three systems. The results suggested that in agroforestry and maize-wheat systems the organic C in soils was less stable and thus could be lost following the land-use change.


Land-use Labile carbon Recalcitrant carbon Organic carbon fractions Soil microbial biomass 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. K. Benbi
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kiranvir Brar
    • 1
  • A. S. Toor
    • 1
  • Pritpal Singh
    • 1
  • Hargopal Singh
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Soil SciencePunjab Agricultural UniversityLudhianaIndia

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