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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract - SOIL BIOLOGY & BIOCHEMISTRY

Carbon Sequestration under Irrigated Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) Production


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 74 No. 6, p. 2049-2058
    Received: Jan 11, 2010

    * Corresponding author(s): hal.collins@ars.usda.gov
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  1. H.P. Collins *a,
  2. J.L. Smithb,
  3. S. Fransenc,
  4. A.K. Alvad,
  5. C.E. Krugere and
  6. D.M. Granatsteine
  1. a USDA-ARS Vegetable and Forage Crops Research Unit 24106 North Bunn Rd. Prosser, WA 99350
    b USDA-ARS Land Management Water Conservation Research Unit 215 Johnson Hall Washington State Univ.Pullman, WA 99164-6421
    c Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center Washington State Univ. 24106 N. Bunn Rd Prosser, WA 99350
    d USDA-ARS Vegetable and Forage Crops Research Unit 24106 North Bunn Rd. Prosser, WA 99350
    e Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources Washington State Univ. 1100 N. Western Ave. Wenatchee, WA 98801


Perennial herbaceous crops such as switchgrass are important sources of cellulosic biomass for the developing bioenergy industry. Assessments of how much C will be lost or sequestered into soil and the turnover rates of that C are needed to assist producers and policymakers in determining the long-term sustainability of biomass production. We used the natural 13C abundance of soils to calculate the quantity and turnover of C4−C inputs in irrigated fields cropped to switchgrass monocultures. Soil profile root biomass produced after three seasons averaged 3.9 Mg C ha−1 m−1 Five years of cropping showed a 1200 kg ha−1 increase in soil organic C (SOC) in the 0- to 15-cm depth increment, with no change below 15 cm. The surface 15 cm of soil cropped to ‘Kanlow’ and ‘Shawnee’ had a δ13C enrichment of 3‰ above the native uncultivated soil, with 3.6‰ for ‘Cave in Rock,’ with an average 2‰ enrichment compared with the soil collected before switchgrass establishment. Enrichment in the 30- to 60- and 60- to 90-cm depths averaged 1.7 and 0.9‰, respectively. The amount of soil profile C4–C determined by δ13C analysis showed a greater C input than determined by the difference in total C mass between the uncultivated native and cropped soils. The average accrual rate of C4–SOC was estimated at 1.0 Mg ha−1 yr−1 Estimates of the mean residence time of the C3−C under the irrigated C4 monocultures of switchgrass were >60 yr in the 0- to15-cm and 30 to 55 yr in the 15- to 30-cm depth increments. On average, 24% of SOC in the 0- to 15-cm depth was derived from C4 cropping.

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