Soil carbon saturation : concept, evidence and evaluation

Stewart, Catherine E., Paustian, Keith, Conant, Richard T., Plante, Alain F., & Six, Johan (2007) Soil carbon saturation : concept, evidence and evaluation. Biogeochemistry, 86(1), pp. 19-31.

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Current estimates of soil C storage potential are based on models or factors that assume linearity between C input levels and C stocks at steady-state, implying that SOC stocks could increase without limit as C input levels increase. However, some soils show little or no increase in steady-state SOC stock with increasing C input levels suggesting that SOC can become saturated with respect to C input. We used long-term field experiment data to assess alternative hypotheses of soil carbon storage by three simple models: a linear model (no saturation), a one-pool whole-soil C saturation model, and a two-pool mixed model with C saturation of a single C pool, but not the whole soil. The one-pool C saturation model best fit the combined data from 14 sites, four individual sites were best-fit with the linear model, and no sites were best fit by the mixed model. These results indicate that existing agricultural field experiments generally have too small a range in C input levels to show saturation behavior, and verify the accepted linear relationship between soil C and C input used to model SOM dynamics. However, all sites combined and the site with the widest range in C input levels were best fit with the C-saturation model. Nevertheless, the same site produced distinct effective stabilization capacity curves rather than an absolute C saturation level. We conclude that the saturation of soil C does occur and therefore the greatest efficiency in soil C sequestration will be in soils further from C saturation.

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191 citations in Web of Science®
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ID Code: 37768
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Agroecosystems - Carbon saturation - Soil carbon sequestration - Soil carbon modeling - Tillage
DOI: 10.1007/s10533-007-9140-0
ISSN: 0168-2563
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES (050000) > ECOLOGICAL APPLICATIONS (050100)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES (050000) > SOIL SCIENCES (050300)
Divisions: Past > Institutes > Institute for Sustainable Resources
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2007 Springer
Copyright Statement: The original publication is available at SpringerLink
Deposited On: 08 Oct 2010 00:08
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 14:19

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