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Soil carbon and tree litter dynamics in a red cedar-scotch pine shelterbelt
- Sauer, Thomas J., Cambardella, Cynthia A., Brandle, James R.
- Agroforestry systems 2007 v.71 no.3 pp. 163
- carbon sequestration, shelterbelts, agroforestry, soil organic carbon, forest litter, soil, surface layers, depth, Juniperus virginiana, Pinus sylvestris, sampling, Nebraska, Great Plains region
- Carbon sequestration in the woody biomass of shelterbelts has been investigated but there have been no measurements of the C stocks in soil and tree litter under this agroforestry practice. The objective of this study was to quantify C stored in surface soil layers and tree litter within and adjacent to a 35-year-old shelterbelt in eastern Nebraska, USA. The 2-row shelterbelt was composed of eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) and scotch pine (Pinus sylvestris). A sampling grid was established across a section of the shelterbelt on Tomek silt loam (fine, smectitic, mesic Pachic Argiudolls). Four soil cores were collected at each grid point, divided into 0-7.5 and 7.5-15 cm depth increments, and composited by depth. Soil samples were analyzed for total, organic, and inorganic C, total N, texture, pH, and nutrient content. Under the shelterbelt, all surface litter in a 0.5 x 0.5 m² area at each grid point was collected prior to soil sampling, dried, weighed, sorted, and analyzed for total C and N. Average soil organic carbon (SOC) in the 0-15 cm layer within the shelterbelt (3,994 g m-²) was significantly greater than in the cultivated fields (3,623 g m-²). The tree litter contained an additional ~1,300 g C m-². Patterns of litter mass and soil pH and texture suggested increased organic inputs by tree litter and deposition of wind-blown sediment may be responsible for greater SOC beneath the shelterbelt. Further research is needed to identify the mechanism(s) responsible for the observed patterns of SOC within and adjacent to the shelterbelt and to quantify the C in biomass and deeper soil layers.