Carbon stability in a texture contrast soil in response to depth and long-term phosphorus fertilisation of grazed pasture

TitleCarbon stability in a texture contrast soil in response to depth and long-term phosphorus fertilisation of grazed pasture
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsCoonan EC, Richardson AE, Kirkby CA, Macdonald LM, Amidy MR, Strong CL, Kirkegaard JA
JournalSoil Research
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number1838-675X
Accession NumberWOS:000505188500002
KeywordsACCUMULATION, Agriculture, carbon fractions, density fractionation, fine fraction soil carbon, light-fraction, management, MECHANISMS, microbial communities, mid-infrared spectroscopy, nitrogen, nutrient stoichiometry, organic-matter turnover, soil carbon stocks, soil organic matter, stabilization, storage

It is important to understand the stability of soil organic matter (SOM) sequestered through land management changes. In this study we assessed differences in carbon (C) stability of pasture soils that had high and low C content (2.35% vs 1.73% whole soil C in the 0-10 cm layer) resulting from long-term phosphorus fertilisation. We used soil size fractionation (fine fraction, coarse fraction and winnowing) to assess the amount of stable C and indicators of microbial decomposition capacity (catabolic profiles, metabolic quotient) to assess C stability. As a main effect throughout the 60-cm profile, C concentrations were higher in the fine fraction soil in the high (excess P fertiliser; P2) than low (no P fertiliser; P0) treatments, demonstrating a larger stable C fraction. For both P2 and P0, there was a strong correlation between C measured in the fine fraction and winnowed fraction in the 0-30 cm layer (R = 0.985, P < 0.001), but no correlation was observed for the 30-60 cm layer (R = 0.121, P > 0.05). In addition, we conducted two incubation experiments to assess C stability in the treatments with depth and to assess C stability in the physical soil fractions. For the surface soils (0-10 cm), the highest respiration occurred in fractions containing plant material, including roots (coarse fraction, 0.65 g CO2-C kg(-1) soil; whole soil, 1.48 g CO2-C kg(-1) soil), which shows that the plant material was less stable than the fine and winnowed soil fractions (0.43 and 0.40 g CO2-C kg(-1) soil respectively). Soil respiration, microbial metabolic quotient and substrate utilisation were similar in P0 and P2. Collectively, the data show that the increased C in P2 was associated with increased C concentrations in the more stable fine soil fraction, but with no change in the stability of the C within the fractions.

Alternate JournalSoil Res.