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Carbon storage in a wolfberry plantation chronosequence established on a secondary saline land in an arid irrigated area of Gansu Province, China

Abstract

Carbon (C) storage has received significant attention for its relevance to agricultural security and climate change. Afforestation can increase C storage in terrestrial ecosystems, and has been recognized as an important measure to offset CO2 emissions. In order to analyze the C benefits of planting wolfberry (Lycium barbarum L.) on the secondary saline lands in arid areas, we conducted a case study on the dynamics of biomass carbon (BC) storage and soil organic carbon (SOC) storage in different-aged wolfberry plantations (4-, 7- and 11-year-old) established on a secondary saline land as well as on the influence of wolfberry plantations on C storage in the plant-soil system in an arid irrigated area (Jingtai County) of Gansu Province, China. The C sequestration and its potential in the wolfberry plantations of Gansu Province were also evaluated. An intact secondary saline land was selected as control. Results show that wolfberry planting could decrease soil salinity, and increase BC, SOC and litter C storage of the secondary saline land significantly, especially in the first 4 years after planting. The aboveground and belowground BC storage values in the intact secondary saline land (control) accounted for only 1.0% and 1.2% of those in the wolfberry plantations, respectively. Compared to the intact secondary saline land, the SOC storage values in the 4-, 7- and 11-year-old wolfberry plantations increased by 36.4%, 37.3% and 43.3%, respectively, and the SOC storage in the wolfberry plantations occupied more than 92% of the ecosystem C storage. The average BC and SOC sequestration rates of the wolfberry plantations for the age group of 0–11 years were 0.73 and 3.30 Mg C/(hm2•a), respectively. There were no significant difference in BC and SOC storage between the 7-year-old and 11-year-old wolfberry plantations, which may be due in part to the large amounts of C offtakes in new branches and fruits. In Gansu Province, the C storage in the wolfberry plantations has reached up to 3.574 Tg in 2013, and the C sequestration potential of the existing wolfberry plantations was 0.134 Tg C/a. These results indicate that wolfberry planting is an ideal agricultural model to restore the degraded saline lands and increase the C sequestration capacity of agricultural lands in arid areas.

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Acknowledgements

This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31660232, 41061030), the Carbon Benefits Project (G-4280-3), the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) Co-financed Project, the Foundation for Innovative Research Groups of Gansu Province (145RJIA335) and the National Science and Technology Program for People's Livelihood (2013GS620202). We gratefully acknowledge the two anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments on the manuscript.

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Ma, Q., Wang, Y., Li, Y. et al. Carbon storage in a wolfberry plantation chronosequence established on a secondary saline land in an arid irrigated area of Gansu Province, China. J. Arid Land 10, 202–216 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40333-018-0053-7

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s40333-018-0053-7

Keywords

  • Lycium barbaum
  • biomass carbon
  • soil organic carbon
  • carbon sequestration potential
  • secondary saline land
  • wolfberry plantation
  • carbon dynamics