Effects of grassland conversion to croplands on soil organic carbon in the temperate Inner Mongolia

Zhi-Ping Wang, Xing-Guo Han, Ling-Hao Li
Journal of Environmental Management 2008, 86 (3): 529-34
This study investigated the effects of grassland conversion to croplands on soil organic carbon (SOC) in a typical grassland-dominated basin of the Inner Mongolia using direct field samplings. The results indicated that SOC contents decreased usually with increasing soil depth, with significant differences between the upper horizons (0-30cm) and the underlying horizons (30-100cm). Also, SOC densities decreased with an increase in the depth of soils. Average SOC densities in the upper horizons were 2.6-3.7 and 6.0-8.3kgCm(-2) for desert grassland-cropland sites (sites 1 and 2) and meadow-cropland sites (sites 3 and 4), respectively, with significant differences between grasslands and croplands (P<0.05). However, the SOC densities in the underlying horizons did not significantly differ between the land uses. The SOC densities up to 100cm depth were much higher in the meadow-cropland sites than in the desert grassland-cropland sites, reaching approximately 16 and 6kgCm(-2), respectively. The SOC: total nitrogen (TN) ratios were approximately 10, with no significant difference among the soil horizons of grasslands and croplands. The conversion of grasslands to croplands induced a slight loss of SOC, with a range of from -4% to 22% for the 0-100cm soil depth over about a 35-year period, in the temperate Inner Mongolia.

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