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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract - SOIL & WATER MANAGEMENT & CONSERVATION

Impact of Sampling Depth on Differences in Soil Carbon Stocks in Long-Term Agroecosystem Experiments


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 75 No. 1, p. 226-234
    Received: Feb 25, 2010

    * Corresponding author(s): Bert.VandenBygaart@agr.gc.ca
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  1. A. J. VandenBygaart *a,
  2. E. Bremerb,
  3. B. G. McConkeyc,
  4. B. H. Ellertd,
  5. H. H. Janzend,
  6. D. A. Angerse,
  7. M. R. Carterf,
  8. C. F. Druryg,
  9. G. P. Lafondh and
  10. R. H. McKenziei
  1. a Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development 100, 5401-1 Ave. S. Lethbridge, AB, T1J 4V6 Canada
    b Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Eastern Cereal and Oilseed Research Centre 960 Carling Ave.Ottawa, ON, K1A 0C6 Canada
    c Symbio Ag Consulting Lethbridge, AB, T1K 2B5 Canada
    d Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Semiarid Prairie Agricultural Res.Centre PO Box 1030 Swift Current, SK, S9H 3X2 Canada
    e Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Lethbridge Research Centre Lethbridge, AB, T1J 4B1 Canada Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Soil and Crops Research and Development Centre Quebec, QC, G1V 2J3 Canada
    f Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Crops and Livestock Research Centre Charlottetown, PE, C1A 4N6 Canada
    g Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Greenhouse and Processing Crops Research Centre Harrow, ON, N0R 1G0 Canada
    h Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Semiarid Prairie Agricultural Research Centre Indian Head Research Farm Indian Head, SK, S0G 2K0 Canada
    i Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development 100, 5401-1 Ave. S. Lethbridge, AB, T1J 4V6 Canada


The depth of sampling has recently been highlighted as critical to making accurate measurements of changes in SOC stocks. This paper aimed to determine the effects of land management changes (LMC) on soil organic carbon (SOC) by re-sampling long-term agoecosystem experiments (LTAEs) across Canada using identical sampling and laboratory protocols. The impact of sampling depth on the monitoring of LMC-induced differences in SOC stock in LTAEs in Canada, and the implications on statistical power and sampling design, were assessed. In most cases, four cores would be suitable for detecting a significant difference in SOC stock of 5 Mg ha−1 at 95% confidence for LMCs in western Canada. The impact of eliminating fallow on SOC stocks was typically restricted to the surface 15 cm. The impact of perennial forages on the average cumulative SOC was sufficiently large to be detectable at all sampling depths (to 60 cm). In three of the six LTAEs sampled in western Canada comparing conventional tillage to no-till, there was a significantly greater SOC storage in the 0- to 30-depth than the 0- to 15-cm depth, suggesting that sampling below 15 cm could be necessary. The same comparisons in eastern Canada suggested that sampling often must exceed the 30-cm depth to account for any changes in SOC due to moldboard plow tillage. Nonetheless, there was little evidence to suggest that increasing sampling intensity or sampling deeper would improve the ability to detect a difference in SOC stocks for this LMC.

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