Impact of carbon farming practices on soil carbon in northern New South Wales

TitleImpact of carbon farming practices on soil carbon in northern New South Wales
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsCowie A.L, Lonergan V.E, Rabbi S.MF, Fornasier F., Macdonald C., Harden S., Kawasaki A., Singh B.K
JournalSoil Research
ISBN Number1838-675x
Accession NumberWOS:000328733100012
Keywordscentral ohio, cropping systems, eastern australia, enzyme-activities, gradient gel-electrophoresis, grassland management, microbial biomass carbon, organic amendment, organic-matter, pasture management, ribosomal-rna, rotational grazing, soil carbon stock, soil microorganisms

This study sought to quantify the influence of carbon farming' practices on soil carbon stocks, in comparison with conventional grazing and cropping, in northern New South Wales. The study had two components: assessment of impacts of organic amendments on soil carbon and biological indicators in croplands on Vertosols of the Liverpool Plains; and assessment of the impact of grazing management on soil carbon in Chromosols of the Northern Tablelands. The organic amendment sites identified for the survey had been treated with manures, composts, or microbial treatments, while the conventional management sites had received only chemical fertilisers. The rotational grazing sites had been managed so that grazing was restricted to short periods of several days, followed by long rest periods (generally several months) governed by pasture growth. These were compared with sites that were grazed continuously. No differences in total soil carbon stock, or soil carbon fractions, were observed between sites treated with organic amendments and those treated with chemical fertiliser. There was some evidence of increased soil carbon stock under rotational compared with continuous grazing, but the difference was not statistically significant. Similarly, double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) stocks were not significantly different in either of the management contrasts, but tended to show higher values in organic treatments and rotational grazing. The enzymatic activities of -glucosidase and leucine-aminopeptidase were significantly higher in rotational than continuous grazing but statistically similar for the cropping site treatments. Relative abundance and community structure, measured on a subset of the cropping sites, showed a higher bacteria:fungi ratio and provided evidence that microbial process rates were significantly higher in chemically fertilised sites than organic amendment sites, suggesting enhanced mineralisation of organic matter under conventional management. The higher enzyme activity and indication of greater efficiency of microbial populations on carbon farming sites suggests a greater potential to build soil carbon under these practices. Further research is required to investigate whether the indicative trends observed reflect real effects of management.

Short TitleSoil Res
Alternate JournalSoil Res<br/>Soil Res