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This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 59 No. 5, p. 1321-1328
    Received: July 28, 1994

    * Corresponding author(s): torbert@brcsun0.tamu.edu
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Elevated Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Effects on Cotton Plant Residue Decomposition

  1. H. A. Torbert ,
  2. S. A. Prior and
  3. H. H. Rogers
  1. USDA-ARS Blackland, Soil and Water Research Lab., 808 East Blackland Rd., Temple, TX 76502
    USDA-ARS National Soil Dynamics Lab., Box 3439, Auburn, AL 36831-3439



Assessing the impact of elevated atmospheric CO2 concentration on the global environment is hampered due to a lack of understanding of global C cycling. Carbon fixed within plant biomass ultimately enters the soil via plant residues, but the effects of elevated-CO2-grown plant material on decomposition rates and long-term soil C storage are unknown. The objective of this study was to determine the decomposition rate of plant residues grown under an elevated CO2 environment as affected by soil type. Cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L. ‘Delta Pine 77’) samples were collected from a free-air CO2 enrichment (550 µL L−1) experiment. The plant residues were incubated under ambient CO2 conditions to determine decomposition rates of leaves, stems, and roots and potential N and P mineralization-immobilization in three soil series: a Blanton loamy sand (loamy siliceous, thermic Grossarenic Paleudult), a Decatur silt loam (clayey, kaolinitic, thermic Rhodic Paleudult), and a Houston clay loam (very fine, montmorillonitic Typic Chromudert). No significant difference was observed between plant residue grown under CO2 enrichment vs. ambient CO2 conditions for soil respiration or P mineralization-immobilization. Significantly greater net N immobilization was observed during the incubation in all soil types for plant residue grown at elevated CO2. These results indicate that while decomposition of plant residue may not be reduced by CO2 enrichment, N dynamics may be markedly changed.

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