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Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems

, Volume 66, Issue 1, pp 33–41 | Cite as

Total and light fraction organic C in a thin Black Chernozemic grassland soil as affected by 27 annual applications of six rates of fertilizer N

  • S.S. Malhi
  • J.T. Harapiak
  • M. Nyborg
  • K.S. Gill
  • C.M. Monreal
  • E.G. Gregorich
Article

Abstract

Maintenance and sequestration of C is important to sustain and improve the quality and productivity of soils. The objective of this study was to determine the effects of 27 annual applications of six N rates (0, 56, 112, 168, 224 and 336 kg N ha−1 yr−1) on total organic C (TOC) and light fraction organic C (LFOC) in a thin Black Chernozemic loam soil. Nitrogen (ammonium nitrate) was surface-applied to bromegrass (Bromus inermis Leyss) managed as hay near Crossfield, Alberta, Canada. The concentration and mass of TOC and LFOC in the 0–5, 5–10, 10–15 and 15–30 cm soil layers increased with N rate and showed a quadratic response to N rate with significant R2 values, with their maximum values at 336 kg N ha−1 in the 0–5 cm layer and at 224 kg N ha−1 in other layers. But the increase in TOC and LFOC per kg of N addition was maximized at 56 kg N ha−1 and declined with further increase in N rate. These trends indicated that higher N rates would cause a faster build up of soil C, whereas lower N rates would achieve a greater increase in soil C per unit of N addition. Response of C mass to N application was much greater for LFOC (range of 697 to 156% increase) than for TOC (range of 67 to 17% increase). Percentage of LFOC in TOC mass increased with N rate. At the 168 to 336 kg N ha−1 rates, almost all of the increase in TOC in the surface 10 cm soil occurred as LFOC. Thus, LFOC was more responsive to N application and was a good indicator of N effect on soil C. The trend of change in soil TOC and LFOC was similar to hay yield and C removal in hay, which suggests that increasing hay yield with N application concurrently also increases soil organic C. In conclusion, long-term annual applications of N fertilizer to bromegrass resulted in a substantial increase in TOC and LFOC in the soil, thereby indicating that N fertilization can be used to sequester more atmospheric C in prairie grassland soils.

Bromegrass Black Chernozemic soil C sequestration Light fraction organic C N fertilization Total organic C 

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • S.S. Malhi
    • 1
  • J.T. Harapiak
    • 2
  • M. Nyborg
    • 3
  • K.S. Gill
    • 1
  • C.M. Monreal
    • 4
  • E.G. Gregorich
    • 4
  1. 1.Canada, Melfort, Canada SOE 1A0
  2. 2.Canada T2P 2N1
  3. 3.Department of Renewable ResourcesUniversity of Alberta, EdmontonCanada T6G 2E3
  4. 4.Canada, Research Centre, Ottawa, Canada K1A OC6

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