Advertisement

Plant and Soil

, Volume 373, Issue 1–2, pp 43–58 | Cite as

Soil organic carbon and root distribution in a temperate arable agroforestry system

  • M. A. Upson
  • P. J. Burgess
Regular Article

Abstract

Aim

To determine, for arable land in a temperate area, the effect of tree establishment and intercropping treatments, on the distribution of roots and soil organic carbon to a depth of 1.5 m.

Methods

A poplar (Populus sp.) silvoarable agroforestry experiment including arable controls was established on arable land in lowland England in 1992. The trees were intercropped with an arable rotation or bare fallow for the first 11 years, thereafter grass was allowed to establish. Coarse and fine root distributions (to depths of up to 1.5 m and up to 5 m from the trees) were measured in 1996, 2003, and 2011. The amount and type of soil carbon to 1.5 m depth was also measured in 2011.

Results

The trees, initially surrounded by arable crops rather than fallow, had a deeper coarse root distribution with less lateral expansion. In 2011, the combined length of tree and understorey vegetation roots was greater in the agroforestry treatments than the control, at depths below 0.9 m. Between 0 and 1.5 m depth, the fine root carbon in the agroforestry treatment (2.56 t ha-1) was 79% greater than that in the control (1.43 t ha−1). Although the soil organic carbon in the top 0.6 m under the trees (161 t C ha−1) was greater than in the control (142 t C ha−1), a tendency for smaller soil carbon levels beneath the trees at lower depths, meant that there was no overall tree effect when a 1.5 m soil depth was considered. From a limited sample, there was no tree effect on the proportion of recalcitrant soil organic carbon.

Conclusions

The observed decline in soil carbon beneath the trees at soil depths greater than 60 cm, if observed elsewhere, has important implication for assessments of the role of afforestation and agroforestry in sequestering carbon.

Keywords

Agroforestry Roots Soil Carbon Carbon fractions Populus Carbon sequestration 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors gratefully acknowledge the support of William Stephens in securing funding for the research and the help of Francois Clavagnier, Pascal Pasturel, and Julius Nkomaula in undertaking important fieldwork. The fractionation of the soil organic carbon was undertaken by Andy Gregory at Rothamsted Research. We also acknowledge support from Forest Research and the Scottish Forestry Trust during the writing up of this work.

References

  1. Ashby Z (2001) Effect of soil characteristics on poplar growth. Unpublished BSc thesis. Cranfield University, BedfordshireGoogle Scholar
  2. Aves C (2002) Factors influencing cereal establishment in a silvoarable system. Unpublished BSc thesis. Cranfield University, BedfordshireGoogle Scholar
  3. Bambrick AD, Whalen JK, Bradley RL, Cogliastro A, Gordon AM, Olivier A, Thevathasan NV (2010) Spatial heterogeneity of soil organic carbon in tree-based intercropping systems in Quebec and Ontario. Canada Agrofor Syst 79:343–353CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Batjes NH (1996) Total carbon and nitrogen in the soils of the world. Europ J Soil Sci 47:151–163CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Benjamini Y, Hochberg Y (1995) Controlling the false discovery rate: a practical and powerful approach to multiple testing. J R Stat Soc 57(1):289–300Google Scholar
  6. Black KE, Harbron CG, Franklin M, Atkinson D, Hooker JE (1998) Differences in root longevity of some tree species. Tree Physiol 18:259–264PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bohm W (1979) Methods of studying root systems. Springer, HeidelbergCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. British Standards Institute (1990) BS 1377–3: 1990 Methods of test for: Soils for civil engineering purposes —Part 3: Chemical and electro-chemical tests.Google Scholar
  9. Bukhari Y (1998) Tree-root influence on soil physical conditions, seedling establishment and natural thinning of Acacia seyal var. seyal on clays of Central Sudan. Agrofor Syst 4:33–43CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Burgess PJ, Stephens W, Anderson G, Durston J (1996) Water use by a poplar-wheat agroforestry system. Vegetation Management in forestry, amenity and conservation areas: Managing for Multiple Objectives. Asp Appl Biol 44:129–136Google Scholar
  11. Burgess PJ, Nkomaula JC, Medeiros Ramos AL (1997) Root distribution and water use in a four-year old silvoarable system. Agrofor Forum 8(3):15–18Google Scholar
  12. Burgess PJ, Incoll LD, Corry DT, Beaton A, Hart BJ (2005) Poplar (Populus spp) growth and crop yields in a silvoarable experiment at three lowland sites in England. Agrofor Syst 63:157–169CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Carney KM, Hungate BA, Drake BG, Megonigal JP (2007) Altered soil microbial community at elevated CO2 leads to loss of soil carbon. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 104:4990–5PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Conover WJ (1971) Practical nonparametric statistics. John Wiley & Sons Inc, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  15. de Mendiburu F (2010) Agricolae: Statistical procedures for agricultural research. R package version 1Google Scholar
  16. Fontaine S, Barot S, Barré P, Bdioui N, Mary B, Rumpel C (2007) Stability of organic carbon in deep soil layers controlled by fresh carbon supply. Nature 450:277–80PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Fontaine S, Henault C, Aamor A, Bdioui N, Bloor JMG, Maire V, Mary B, Revaillot S, Maron PA (2011) Fungi mediate long term sequestration of carbon and nitrogen in soil through their priming effect. Soil Biol Biochem 43:86–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gordon AM, Naresh RPF, Thevathasan V (2006) How much carbon can be stored in Canadian agroecosystems using a silvopastoral approach? In: Mosquera-Losada MR, McAdam JH (eds.). Silvopastoralism and Sustainable Land Management: Proceedings of an International Congress on Silvopastoralism and Sustainable Management Held in Lugo Spain, in April 2004. CABI Publishing, pp. 210–218Google Scholar
  19. Guo LB, Wang M, Gifford RM (2007) The change of soil carbon stocks and fine root dynamics after land use change from a native pasture to a pine plantation. Plant Soil 299:251–262CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Jackson RB, Mooney HA, Schulze ED (1997) A global budget for fine root biomass, surface area, and nutrient contents. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 94:7362–7366PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Janzen HH (2005) Soil carbon: A measure of ecosystem response in a changing world? Can J Soil Sci 85:467–480CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Jug MF, Rehfuess K, Hofmann-Schielle C (1999) Short-rotation plantations of balsam poplars, aspen and willows on former arable land in the Federal Republic of Germany. III. Soil ecological effects. For Ecol Manag 121:85–99CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Klute A (1986) Methods of soil analysis: Part 1—physical and mineralogical methods. 2nd Ed. American society of agronomy, Wisconsin. Messing I, Alriksson A, Johansson W (1997) Soil physical properties of afforested and arable land. Soil Use Manag 13:209–217Google Scholar
  24. Messing I, Alriksson A, Johansson W (1997) Soil physical properties of afforested and arable land. Soil Use Manag 13:209–217CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Montagnini F (2004) Carbon sequestration: An underexploited environmental benefit of agroforestry systems. Agrofor Syst 61:281–295CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Moore T, Knowles R (1989) The influence of water table levels on methane and carbon dioxide emissions from peatland soils. Can J Soil Sci 69:33–38CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Moreno G, Obrador JJ, Cubera E, Dupraz C (2005) Fine root distribution in Dehesas of Central-Western Spain. Plant Soil 277:153–162CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Mulia R, Dupraz C (2006) Unusual fine root distributions of two deciduous tree species in Southern France: What consequences for modelling of tree root dynamics? Plant Soil 281:71–85CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Nair PKR, Kumar BM, Nair VD (2009) Agroforestry as a strategy for carbon sequestration. J Plant Nutr Soil Sci 172:10–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Nair PKR (2011) Methodological challenges in estimating carbon sequestration potential of agroforestry systems. In: Kumar BM, Nair PKR (eds) Carbon Sequestration Potential of Agroforestry Systems. Springer, pp 3–16Google Scholar
  31. Nkomaula JC (1996) Root distribution of four-year-old poplar in a Silvo-Arable system. Unpublished MSc Thesis. Cranfield University, BedfordshireGoogle Scholar
  32. Oelbermann M, Voroney RP (2007) Carbon and nitrogen in a temperate agroforestry system: Using stable isotopes as a tool to understand soil dynamics. Ecol Eng 29:342–349CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Pandey D (2002) Carbon sequestration in agroforestry systems. Clim Policy 2:367–377Google Scholar
  34. Pasturel P (2004) Light and water use in a poplar silvoarable system. Unpublished MSc by Research Thesis. Cranfield University, BedfordshireGoogle Scholar
  35. Peichl M, Thevathasan NV, Gordon AM, Huss J, Abohassan R (2006) Carbon sequestration potentials in temperate tree-based intercropping systems, Southern Ontario. Canada Agrofor Syst 66:243–257CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Pietola L, Alakukku L (2005) Root growth dynamics and biomass input by Nordic annual field crops. Agric Ecosyst Environ 108:135–144CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Post WM, Kwon KC (2000) Soil carbon sequestration and land-use change: Processes and potential. Glob Change Biol 11:317–327CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. R Development Core Team (2011) R: A language and environment for statistical computing.Google Scholar
  39. Recous S, Coppens F, Abiven S, Garnier P, Merckx R (2008) Carbon and nitrogen dynamics in soils: Effects of residue quality and localization. In: Systems for enhancing management of agroforestry systems. Vienna: International Atomic Energy Agency, p. 99.Google Scholar
  40. Richter DD, Markewitz D, Trumbore SE, Wells CG (1999) Rapid accumulation and turnover of soil carbon in a re-establishing forest. Nature 400:14–16CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Rumpel C, Kögel-Knabner I, Bruhn F (2002) Vertical distribution, age, and chemical composition of organic carbon in two forest soils of different pedogenesis. Org Geochem 33:1131–1142CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Schöning I, Kögel-Knabner I (2006) Chemical composition of young and old carbon pools throughout Cambisol and Luvisol profiles under forests. Soil Biol Biochem 38:2411–2424CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Seobi T, Anderson SH, Udawatta RP, Gantzer CJ (2005) Influence of grass and agroforestry buffer strips on soil hydraulic properties for an albaqualf. Soil Sci Soc Am J 69:893CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Sharrow SH, Ismail S (2004) Carbon and nitrogen storage in agroforests, tree plantations, and pastures in western Oregon. USA Agrofor Syst 60:123–130CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. UNEP (2011) Bridging the Emissions Gap. United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).Google Scholar
  46. Veen J, Ladd JN, Osmond G (1985) Turnover of carbon and nitrogen through the microbial biomass in a sandy loam and a clay soil incubated with 14C glucose under different moisture regimes. Soil Biol Biochem 17:747–756CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Vesterdal L, Ritter E (2002) Change in soil organic carbon following afforestation of former arable land. For Ecol Manag 169:137–147CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Zimmermann M, Leifeld J, Schmidt MWI, Smith P, Fuhrer J (2007) Measured soil organic matter fractions can be related to pools in the RothC model. Eur J Soil Sci 58:658–667CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental Science and TechnologyCranfield UniversityCranfieldUK

Personalised recommendations