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Effects of land management on CO₂ flux and soil C stock in two Tanzanian croplands with contrasting soil texture

Sugihara, Soh, Funakawa, Shinya, Kilasara, Method, Kosaki, Takashi
Soil biology & biochemistry 2012 v.46 pp. 1-9
agricultural land, carbon, carbon dioxide, carbon sinks, clay soils, climate, climate change, fertilizers, land management, plant residues, sandy soils, seasonal variation, soil depth, soil fertility, soil texture, Tanzania
Evaluation of carbon dynamics is of great concern worldwide in terms of climate change and soil fertility. However, the annual CO₂ flux and the effect of land management on the carbon budget are poorly understood in Sub-Saharan Africa, owing to the relative dearth of data for in situ CO₂ fluxes. Here, we evaluated seasonal variations in CO₂ efflux rate with hourly climate data in two dry tropical croplands in Tanzania at two sites with contrasting soil textures, viz. clayey or sandy, over four consecutive crop-cultivation periods of 40 months. We then: (1) estimated the annual CO₂ flux, and (2) evaluated the effect of land management (control plot, plant residue treatment plot, fertilizer treatment plot, and plant residue and fertilizer treatment plot) on the CO₂ flux and soil carbon stock at both sites. Estimated annual CO₂ fluxes were 1.0–2.2 and 0.9–1.9 Mg C ha⁻¹ yr⁻¹ for the clayey and sandy sites, respectively. At the end of the experiment, crop cultivation had decreased the surface soil carbon stocks by 2.4 and 3.0 Mg C ha⁻¹ (soil depth 0–15 cm) at the clayey and sandy sites, respectively. On the other hand, plant residue application (7.5 Mg C ha⁻¹ yr⁻¹) significantly increased the surface soil carbon stocks, i.e., 3.5–3.8 and 1.7–2.1 Mg C ha⁻¹ (soil depth 0–15 cm) at the clayey and sandy sites, respectively, while it also increased the annual CO₂ fluxes substantially, i.e., 2.5–4.0 and 2.4–3.4 Mg C ha⁻¹ yr⁻¹ for the clayey and sandy soils, respectively. Our results indicate that these dry tropical croplands at least may act as a carbon sink, though the efficiency of carbon accumulation was substantially lower in sandy soil (6.8–8.4%) compared to clayey soil (14.0–15.2%), possibly owing to higher carbon loss by leaching and macro-faunal activity.