Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 717–726 | Cite as

Difference in organic carbon contents and distributions in particle-size fractions between soil and sediment on the Southern Loess Plateau, China

  • Guang-lu LiEmail author
  • Xiao-ming Pang


The purpose of this study was to assess the effect of long-term cultivation and water erosion on the soil organic carbon (OC) in particle-size fractions. The study site is located at Nihegou Watershed in the Southern Loess Plateau, China. The soil at this site is loess with loose and silty structure, and contains macropores. The results showed that the OC concentrations in sediments and in the particle-size fractions of sediments were higher than those in soils and in the particle-size fractions of soils. The OC concentration was highest in the clay particles and was lowest in the sand particles. Clay particles possessed higher OC enrichment ability than silt and sand particles. The proportions of OC in the silt fractions of soil and sediment were the highest (mean value of 53.87% and 58.48%, respectively), and the total proportion of OC in the clay and silt fractions accounted for 96% and 98% of the total OC in the soil and sediment, respectively. The loss of OC was highest in silt particles, with an average value of 0.16 Mg ha−1 y−1, and was lowest in the sand (0.003 Mg ha−1 y−1). This result suggests that the fine particle-size fraction in the removed sediment may be an important indicator to assess soil OC losses.


Soil organic carbon Loess Plateau Enrichment ratio Water erosion Particle fraction 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bajracharya R, Lal R, Kimble JM (2000) Erosion phase effects on CO2 concentration and CO2 flux from an Alfisol. Soil Science Society of America Journal 64(2): 694–700. DOI: 10.2136/sssaj2000.642694xCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Boix-Fayos Carolina, Joris de Vente, Juan Albaladejo, et al. (2009) Soil carbon erosion and stock as affected by land use changes at the catchment scale in Mediterranean ecosystem. Agriculture Ecosystems and Environment 133(1–2):75–85. DOI: 10.1016/j.agee.2009.05.013Google Scholar
  3. Carter MR, Angers DA, Gregorich EG, et al. (2003) Characterizing organic matter retention for surface soils in east Canada using density and separates. Canadian Journal of Soil Science 83(1):11–23. DOI: 10.4141/S01-087CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Catroux G, Schnitzer M (1987) Chemical, spectroscopic, and biological characteristics of the organic matter in particle-size separated from an equal. Soil Science Society of America Journal 51(5):1200–1207. DOI: 10.2136/sssaj1987.03615995005100050020xCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Christensen BT (1985) Carbon and nitrogen in particle-size fraction isolated from Danish arable soils by ultrasonic dispersion and gravity-sedimentation. Acta Agriculture Scandinavica 35(2):175–187. DOI: 10.1080/00015128509435773CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cogo NP, Moldenhauer WC, Foster GR (1983) Effect off crop residue, tillage induced roughness, and runoff velocity on size distribution of eroded soil aggregates. Soil Science Society of America Journal 47(5):1005–1008. DOI: 10.2136/sssaj1983.03615995004700050033xCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Covaleda S, Pajares S, Gallardo JF, et al. (2006) Short-term changes in C and N distribution in soil particle size fraction induced by agricultural practices in a cultivated volcanic soil from Mexico. Organic Geochemistriy 37(12):1943–1948. DOI: 10.1016/j.orggeochem.2006.09.001CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Diat Zorita M, Buschiazzo DE, Peinemann N (1999) Soil organic matter and wheat productivity in the sediarid Argentinian Pampas. Agronomy Journal 91(2): 276–279. DOI: 10.2134/agronj1999.00021962009100020016xCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Fang HJ, Yang XM, Zhang XP, et al. (2006) The budget between transportation and accumulation of organic carbon and total nitrogen in black soil at a sloping farmland. Journal of Nuclear Agricultural Sciences 20(1): 68–73. (In Chinese).Google Scholar
  10. Gachene CKK, Jarvis NJ, Linner H, et al. (1997) Soil erosion effects on soil properties in a highland area of Central Kenya. Soil Science Society of America Journal 61(2):559–564. DOI:10.2136/sssaj1997.03615995006100020027xCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gregorich EG, Carter MR, Angers DA, et al. (1994) Toward a minimum data set to assess soil organic matter quality in agricultural soils. Canadian Journal of Soil science 74(4):367–385.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Haregeweyn N, Poesen J, Deckers J, et al. (2008) Sedimentbound nutrient export from micro-dam catchment in Northern Ethiopia. Land Degradation Development. 19(2): 136–152. DOI: 10.1002/ldr.830CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hassink J (1997) The capacity of soils to preserve organic C and N by their association with clay and silt particles. Plant and Soil 191(1): 77–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Karchegani PM, Ayoubi S, Mosaddeghi MR, et al. (2012) Soil organic Carbon Pools in Particle-size fractions as affected by Slope Gradient and Land Use Change in Hilly Regions, Western Iran. Journal of Mountain Science 9(1):89–95. DOI: 10.1007/s11629-012-2211-2CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Lal R (2003) Soil erosion and the global carbon budget. Environment International 29(4): 437–450. DOI: 10.1016/S0160-4120(02)00192-7CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Li GL, Pang XM (2010) Effect of Land-use conversion on C and N distribution in aggregate fractions of soil Loess Plateau, China. Land Use Policy 27(3): 706–712. DOI: 10.1016/j.landusepol.2009.09.011CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Li GL, Zhang SL (2007) Effect of soil erosion on distribution of C and N in different particle size fractions of soil on the southern Loess Plateau. Journal of Northwest A & F University (Natural Science Edition) 35(8): 146–150. (In Chinese).Google Scholar
  18. Martinez-Mena M, López J, Almagro M, et al. (2008) Effect of water erosion and cultivation on the soil carbon stock in a semi-arid area of South-East Spain. Soil Tillage Research 99(1): 119–129. DOI: 10.1016/j.still.2008.01.009CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. McIsaac GF, Hirschi MC, Mitchell JK (1991) Nitrogen and phosphorus in eroded sediment from corn and soybean tillage system. Journal of Environment Quality 20(3): 663–670. DOI: 10.2134/jeq1991.00472425002000030026xCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Oades JM (1988) The retention of organic matter in soils. Biogeochemistry 5(1): 35–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Owens LB, Malone RW, Hothem DL, et al. (2002) Sediment carbon concentration and transport from small watersheds under various conservation tillage practices. Soil Tillage Research 67(1): 65–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Palis RG, Okwach G, Rose CW, et al. (1990) Soil erosion processes and nutrient loss. I The interpretation of environment ratio and nitrogen loss in runoff sediment. Australian Journal of Soil Research 28(3): 623–639.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Palis RG, Rose CW, Saffigna PG (1997) Soil erosion and nutrient loss. II Changes in the enrichment ratio of total nitrogen and organic carbon under rainfall detachment and enrichment. Australian Journal of Soil Research 35(4): 907–924.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Polyakov V, Lal R (2004) Modeling soil organic matter dynamics as affected by soil and erosion. Environment International 30(4): 547–556. DOI: 10.1016/j.envint.2003.10.011CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Quinton JN, Catt JA, Wood GA, et al. (2006) Soil carbon losses by water erosion: experimentation and modeling at field and national scales in the UK. Agriculture Ecosystems and Environment 112(1): 87–102.DOI: 10.1016/j.agee.2005.07.005CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Rasmussen PE, Collins HP (1991) Long-term impacts of tillage, fertilizer, and crop residue on soil organic matter in temperate semiarid regions. Advances in Agronomy 45: 93–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Rhoton FE, Emmerich WE, Goodrich DC, et al. (2006) Soil geomorphological characteristics of a semiarid watershed: influence on carbon distribution and transport. Soil Science Society of America Journal 70(5):1532–1540. DOI: 10.2136/sssaj2005.0239CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Rodriguez AR, Guerra A, Arbelo C, et al. (2004) Forms of eroded soil organic carbon in andosols of the Canary Islands. Geoderma 121(3–4):205–219. DOI:10.1016/j.geoderma.2003.11.009CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Schiettecatte W, Gabriels D, Cornelis WM, et al. (2008) Impact of deposition on the enrichment of organic carbon in eroded sediment. Catena 72(3):340–347. DOI: 10.1016/j.catena.2007. 07.001CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Tistall JM, Oades JM (1982) Organic matter and water stable aggregates in soils. Journal of Soil Science 133(3):141–163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Wang HJ, Li XW, Shi XZ, et al. (2003) Distribution of soil nutrient under different land use and relationship between soil nutrient and soil granule composition. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 17(2):44–46. (In Chinese)Google Scholar
  32. Wang ZG, Govers G, Steegen A, et al. (2010) Catchment-scale carbon redistributionand delivery by water erosion in an intensively cultivated area. Geomorphology 124: 65–74. DOI: 10.1016/geomorph.2010.08.010CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Zhang XC, Shao MA (2001) Enrichment of organic matter and nitrogen in eroded bed loads. Journal of Applied Ecology 12(4):541–544 (In Chinese).Google Scholar
  34. Zhang XC, Shao MA, Li SQ, Peng KS (2004a) A review of soil and water conservation in China. Journal of Geographical Sciences 14(3):259–274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Zhang YL, Zhang XC, Shao MA (2004b) Impact of straw cover on mineral nitrogen loss by runoff on loess slope. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 18(1): 85–88 (In Chinese).Google Scholar
  36. Zhao LP, Sun YJ, Zhang XP, et al. (2005) Soil organic carbon in clay and silt sizes particles in Chinese mollisols: Relationship to the predicted capacity. Geoderma 132(3–4): 315–323. DOI: 10.1016/j.geoderma.2005.04.026Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Resources and EnvironmentNorthwest A&F UniversityYanglingChina
  2. 2.Tianshui Soil and Water Conservation Experiment Station of YRCCTianshuiChina

Personalised recommendations