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The effects of ecological construction and topography on soil organic carbon and total nitrogen in the Loess Plateau of China

Shi, Peng, Duan, Jinxiao, Zhang, Yan, Li, Peng, Wang, Xiukang, Li, Zhanbin, Xiao, Lie, Xu, Guoce, Lu, Kexin, Cheng, Shengdong, Ren, Zongping, Zhang, Yi, Yang, Wengang
Environmental earth sciences 2019 v.78 no.1 pp. 5
cesium, cropland, ecological restoration, forests, grasslands, land use change, loess, nitrogen, prediction, radionuclides, soil erosion, soil organic carbon, terraces, topographic slope, topsoil, total nitrogen, water conservation, China
The construction of terraces and vegetation restoration in the hillslope are major soil and water conservation measures on the Chinese Loess Plateau and contributed to the distribution patterns of soil organic carbon (SOC) and soil total nitrogen (STN). Topography influences soil erosion and changes SOC and STN contents. However, little information is available regarding the effects of ecological construction and topography on SOC and STN. A study was undertaken in the Loess Plateau, to evaluate the effects of land use conversion and topographic factors on the topsoil SOC and STN content at three hillslope positions (upper, middle, and foot slopes) under four land uses types: artificial forest, grassland, terraced fields, and sloping cropland. The results showed that land use conversion from sloping cropland to artificial forest and grassland improved the SOC and STN content. Slope position was an important topographic factor governing the SOC and STN distribution at the slope scale in artificial forest, grassland, and sloping cropland, with the foot slope having the highest SOC and STN content, followed by the upper slope, while the middle slope had the lowest values. SOC and STN showed positive correlation with Caesium-137 (¹³⁷Cs) content. Land use types, slope position, and soil erosion had significant relationships with SON and STN. The results suggested that vegetation restoration of sloping cropland will contribute to soil carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) sequestration in the loess hilly region. The quantitative estimation of land use change and topography effects on SOC and STN could improve the accuracy of SOC and STN predictions in the region with a complex topography.