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Journal of Arid Land  2015, Vol. 7 Issue (5): 636-643    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-015-0008-1
Research Articles     
Conventional tillage improves the storage of soil organic carbon in heavy fractions in the Loess Plateau, China
HAN Huige1, LI Xudong1, NIU Decao1, Sharon J HALL2, GUO Ding1, WAN Changgui1,3, Jennifer K LEARNED2, FU Hua1
1 State Key Laboratory of Grassland Agro-ecosystems, College of Pastoral Agriculture Science and Technology, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730020, China;
2 School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University, Arizona 85281, USA;
3 Department of Natural Resources Management, Texas Technology University, Texas 79409, USA
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Abstract  Soil labile organic carbon (C) plays an important role in improving soil quality. The relatively stable fractions of soil organic C (SOC) represent the bulk of SOC, and are also the primary determinant of the long-term C balance of terrestrial ecosystems. Different land use types can influence the distribution patterns of different SOC fractions. However, the underlying mechanisms are not well understood. In the present study, different fractions of SOC were determined in two land use types: a grazed grassland (established on previously cultivated cropland 25 years ago, GG) and a long-term cultivated millet cropland (MC). The results showed that C concentration and C storage of light fractions (LF) and heavy fractions (HF) presented different patterns along the soil profiles in the two sites. More plant residues in GG resulted in 91.9% higher LF storage at the 0–10 cm soil depth, further contributed to 21.9% higher SOC storage at this soil depth; SOC storage at 20–60 cm soil depth in MC was 98.8% higher than that in GG, which could be mainly attributed to the HF storage 104.5% higher than in GG. This might be caused by the long-term application of organic manure, as well as the protection from plough pan and silt- and clay-sized particles. The study indicated that different soil management practices in this region can greatly influence the vari-ations of different SOC fractions, while the conventional tillage can greatly improve the storage of SOC by in-creasing heavy fractions.

Key wordspsammophyte      Agriophyllum squarrosum      sand burial stress      growth inhibition      physiological response     
Received: 04 November 2014      Published: 05 October 2015

National Basic Research Program of China (2014CB138703), the Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (XDA05050403), Changjiang Scholars and Innovative Research Team in Univer-sity (IRT13019), Key Science and Technology Projects of Gansu Province (1203FKDA035), Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (lzujbky-2014-78) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31070412, 31201837).

Corresponding Authors: FU Hua     E-mail:
Cite this article:

HAN Huige, LI Xudong, NIU Decao, Sharon J HALL, GUO Ding, WAN Changgui, Jennifer K LEARNED, FU Hua. Conventional tillage improves the storage of soil organic carbon in heavy fractions in the Loess Plateau, China. Journal of Arid Land, 2015, 7(5): 636-643.

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