Predicting agricultural management influence on long-term soil organic carbon dynamics: Implications for biofuel production

H. T. Gollany, R. W. Rickman, Y. Liang, S. L. Albrecht, S. Machado, S. Kang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Long-term field experiments (LTE) are ideal for predicting the influence of agricultural management on soil organic carbon (SOC) dynamics and examining biofuel crop residue removal policy questions. Our objectives were (i) to simulate SOC dynamics in LTE soils under various climates, crop rotations, fertilizer or organic amendments, and crop residue managements using the CQESTR model and (ii) to predict the potential of no-tillage (NT) management to maintain SOC stocks while removing crop residue. Classical LTEs at Champaign, IL (1876), Columbia, MO (1888), Lethbridge, AB (1911), Breton, AB (1930), and Pendleton, OR (1931) were selected for their documented history of management practice and periodic soil organic matter (SOM) measurements. Management practices ranged from monoculture to 2- or 3-yr crop rotations, manure, no fertilizer or fertilizer additions, and crop residue returned, burned, or harvested. Measured and CQESTR predicted SOC stocks under diverse agronomic practices, mean annual temperature (2.1-19°C), precipitation (402-973 mm), and SOC (5.89-33.58 g SOC kg-1) at the LTE sites were significantly related (r2 = 0.94, n = 186, P < 0.0001) with a slope not significantly different than 1. The simulation results indicated that the quantities of crop residue that can be sustainably harvested without jeopardizing SOC stocks were influenced by initial SOC stocks, crop rotation intensity, tillage practices, crop yield, and climate. Manure or a cover crop/intensified crop rotation under NT are options to mitigate loss of crop residue C, as using fertilizer alone is insufficient to overcome residue removal impact on SOC stocks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)234-246
Number of pages13
JournalAgronomy Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011
Externally publishedYes

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