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Changes in soil organic carbon stocks as affected by cropping systems and cropping duration in China’s paddy fields: a meta-analysis

Huang, Shan, Sun, Yanni, Zhang, Weijian
Climatic change 2012 v.112 no.3-4 pp. 847-858
NPK fertilizers, carbon, carbon sequestration, carbon sinks, continuous cropping, double cropping, meta-analysis, paddies, paddy soils, rice, soil organic carbon, uncertainty, China
Great uncertainties remain in the impact of cropping systems on soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks in paddy fields that hold a large potential for carbon (C) sequestration. In this study, a meta-analysis was performed to examine trends on SOC stocks in unfertilized and fertilized fields from three of the most common rice cropping systems in China. Results showed that rice cropping without any nutrient application (Control) significantly increased SOC stocks by 9% compared to the initial level in double rice cropping systems (DR), whereas no significant effects were observed in single rice cropping systems (SR) and rice-upland crop rotation systems (RU). Paddy soils sequestered C in all the three cropping systems under inorganic NPK fertilization, and the magnitude of the increase in SOC stocks was in the order DR > RU > SR. Soil C stocks increased with the increasing cropping duration. Continuous rice cropping for more than 20 years led to average SOC gains of 15% and 23% in the control and NPK treatments, respectively. Furthermore, it seems that C sequestration was still occurring in the longest fields from the included studies. Thus, no SOC saturation trend was found over the investigated cropping duration. However, the negative relationship between SOC changes and their initial C stocks suggests indirectly the possibility of SOC saturation in paddy fields.