Three long-term trials end with a quasi-equilibrium between soil C, N, and pH: an implication for C sequestration Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • The aim of this study was to assess the long-term changes in some key soil chemical properties at the completion of three long-term trials in south-eastern Australia and the relationship between those soil properties. From a soil organic matter perspective, the build-up of carbon (%C) requires an accumulation of nitrogen (%N), and the build-up of %C and %N fertility comes at the cost of soil acidity. Rotation, tillage, and stubble practices combine to alter the quantity, quality (C : N), and the depth distribution of organic matter in a soil, but the three soil chemical properties reported here seem to also be in quasi-equilibrium at the three long-term sites. The consequence is that if the build-up of soil organic matter leads to soil acidification, then the maintenance of agricultural production will require liming. The emission of CO2 when limestone reacts with soil acids, plus the C cost of limestone application, will negate a proportion of the gains from C sequestration as organic matter in soil. Such cautionary information was doubtless unforeseen when these three long-term trials were initiated.

authors

  • Conyers, Mark
  • Newton, Philip
  • Condon, Jason
  • Poile, Graeme
  • Mele, Pauline
  • Ash, Gavin

publication date

  • 2012