Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems

, Volume 78, Issue 2, pp 143–153 | Cite as

The CENTURY model failed to simulate soil organic matter development in an acidic grassland

  • Bente Foereid
  • G. T. Barthram
  • Carol A. Marriott
Original Paper


Extensive agricultural systems have been promoted all over Europe. Most studies of such systems have focused on plant species composition, while few studies have looked at soil effects. We report on an experiment at three upland sites where soil carbon, nitrogen and pH were measured twice a year for 12 years. There were four grazing treatments: no grazing, grazed to maintain a sward height of 8 cm, grazed to maintain 4 cm (all without fertiliser) and grazed to maintain 4 cm with the addition of fertiliser. There was no significant effect of treatment, but there were differences between sites over time. A simulation model, CENTURY, was adapted to the data. It also predicted little difference between treatments, but the fit to data was not very good. It was necessary to assume that the soils contained a store of undecomposed organic matter or peat that was now slowly decomposing as a result of liming. The need to modify the model to include a pH effect on decomposition in the model is highlighted.


Carbon sequestration Grassland Extensification CENTURY model Soil pH Soil N 



This work was supported by the Scottish Executive Environment and Rural Affairs Department. We thank the various staff at the Macaulay Institute for sampling and analysing the plant and soil material, the British Atmospheric Data Centre for providing access to the British Meteorological Office climate data and the Environmental Change Network for providing some local climate data.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bente Foereid
    • 1
    • 3
  • G. T. Barthram
    • 2
  • Carol A. Marriott
    • 1
  1. 1.The Macaulay Institute, CraigiebucklerAberdeenUK
  2. 2.The Macaulay Institute, Hartwood Home FarmShottsUK
  3. 3.Plant & Soil ScienceSchool of Biological Science, University of AberdeenAberdeenUK

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