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Journal of Arid Land  2012, Vol. 4 Issue (4): 420-430    DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1227.2012.00420
Research Articles     
Changes in soil carbon stocks and related soil properties along a 50-year grassland-to-cropland conversion chronosequence in an agro-pastoral ecotone of Inner Mongolia, China
Yan JIAO1,2, Zhu XU2, JiaoHong ZHAO1, WenZhu YANG1
1 College of Chemistry and Environmental Sciences, Inner Mongolia Normal University, Hohhot 010018, China;
2 Grassland Research Institute of Chinese Academy of Agriculture Science, Hohhot 010018, China
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Abstract  Land use change significantly influences soil properties. There is little information available on the long-term effects of post-reclamation from grassland to cropland on soil properties. We compared soil carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) storage and related soil properties in a 50-year cultivation chronosequence of grassland in the agro-pastoral ecotone of Inner Mongolia. Field surveys on land use changes during the period of 1955–2002 were conducted to build a chronosequence of cropland of different ages since the conversion from grassland. The results showed that soil C and N storage, soil texture, and soil nutrient contents varied with land use types and cropland ages (P<0.01). In the 0–30 cm soil layer, the soil organic carbon (SOC) density was significantly lower in the crop-lands (3.28 kg C/m2 for C50 soil) than in the grasslands (6.32 kg C/m2). After 5, 10, 15, 20, 35, and 50 years of crop planting (years since the onset of cultivation), the SOC losses were 17%, 12%, 19%, 47%, 46%, and 48%, respec-tively, compared with the grasslands. The soil total nitrogen (TN) density of the grasslands was 65 g N/m2, and TN density of the cropland soil was 35 g N/m2 after 50 years of crop planting. Both the SOC and TN densities could be quantitatively determined by a negative exponential function of cropland age (P<0.0001, R2=0.8528; P<0.0001, R2=0.9637). The dissolved organic carbon (DOC) content, soil available potassium (AK) content, clay content, and pH value were decreased; and the soil bulk density and sand content were increased since the conversion of grassland into cropland during the 50-year period. Our results show soil nutrients were higher in grassland than in cropland. The conversion of grasslands to croplands induced a loss of soil C storage and changes of related soil properties. The reclamation time of cultivated soil (cropland age) had significant effects on soil properties in the study area.

Key wordsirrigation      abnormal soil moisture      weather and climate effects      precipitation      arid region      Xinjiang     
Received: 21 February 2012      Published: 15 December 2012

The National Natural Science Founda-tion of China (41165010), the State Key Basic Research and Development Plan of China (2007CB106806), and the State Key Laboratory Fund of Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chi-nese Academy of Sciences (LAPC-KF-2008-03).

Corresponding Authors: Yan JIAO     E-mail:
Cite this article:

Yan JIAO, Zhu XU, JiaoHong ZHAO, WenZhu YANG. Changes in soil carbon stocks and related soil properties along a 50-year grassland-to-cropland conversion chronosequence in an agro-pastoral ecotone of Inner Mongolia, China. Journal of Arid Land, 2012, 4(4): 420-430.

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