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Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J.
Vol.71, No.3 , 2007, Pages:

Carbon Sequestration and Soil Aggregation in
Center-Pivot Irrigated and Dryland Cultivated
Farming Systems

Jeroen Gillabel*, Karolien Denef,John Brenner,Roel Merckx,Keith Paustian.

Division Soil and Water Management, Dep. of Land Management and Economics,
Katholieke Univ. Leuven, Kasteelpark Arenberg 20 3001 Heverlee, Belgium.


Although irrigation is considered a benefi ciary management for increasing soil organic C (SOC) stocks in (semi)arid environments, our understanding of the impact of irrigation on soil organic matter (SOM) dynamics in the fi eld remains limited. We investigated the effect of irrigation on soil C storage in relation to soil aggregation by measuring C stocks of bulk soil and different aggreagate fractions in the top 20-cm layer of center-pivot irrigated vs. dryland farming systems in semiarid southwestern Nebraska. The irrigated fi elds (IRR) showed increased C inputs and larger SOC stocks than the dryland cultivated fi elds (DRY). Fractionation of bulk soil samples into non-microaggregate-associated particulate organic matter (free POM) and microaggregate-associated POM, silt, and clay fractions indicated that the larger bulk SOC stock under IRR was explained solely by an increase in microaggregate- associated C storage Wet sieving of bulk soil showed that microaggregation was remarkably low under DRY and did not increase under IRR, suggesting that the protection of microaggregates inside macroaggregates was no prerequisite for C sequestration under IRR. The results of this study confi rm the potential of irrigation to increase soil C stocks through preferential sequestration of C inside microaggregates, but question our understanding of the mechanisms underlying this preferential sequestration.

Keywords:Carbon Sequestration, Soil Aggregation,soil organic carbon,soil organic matter,POM,Organis farming.

Corresponding author: Phone:xxxxxxxxxxx Fax: xxxxxxxxxxx.

E-mail: Jeroen.Gillabel@biw.kuleuven.be.


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