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Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems

, Volume 70, Issue 2, pp 215–229 | Cite as

Factors affecting organic carbon dynamics in soils of Nepal/Himalayan region – a review and analysis

  • B.K. Sitaula
  • R.M. Bajracharya
  • B.R. Singh
  • B. Solberg
Article

Abstract

We reviewed the factors and processes relevant to C (Carbon) stocks and dynamics in the soils of Hindu Kush-Himalayan region (HKH) in general, and Nepal in particular. Included in this paper are reviews of land use change, soil types, erosion, soil fertility status, land management and other pertinent information in relation to the SOC (Soil Organic Carbon) stock, dynamics and sequestration. Watershed degradation in the HKH region appears to be a serious problem affecting the SOC pool, which may be primarily attributed to deforestation, land use changes, forest degradation, soil erosion and fertility decline. Soils under degraded forest and grazing land and red soils were reported to have less than 1% SOC; however, well managed forests have considerably higher organic matter (SOC = 4%) levels than those cleared for cultivation. Our estimates show that both the soil and SOC losses are site specific, being as high as 256 kg C ha–1 y–1. Estimated net CO2 losses from the erosion displaced SOC varied between <1 and 42 kg C ha–1 y–1 depending on initial SOC content and soil erosion rates in the specific sites. The land cover changes in the past 18 years in the two Nepalese watersheds, Mardi and Fewa, may have resulted in net loss of SOC stock (29% losses for Mardi and 7% losses for Fewa) compared to land cover in the base year (1978). The processes contributing to C pool, fluxes and sequestration are inadequately studied, and particularly in the HKH region, there is a lack of data on several essential aspects needed for estimating soil C fluxes and C sequestration potential. Systematic soil survey and long term experiments are needed on dominant soil types and land use systems of the HKH region for developing the database on soil fertility and SOC relationships to site specific management practices. Future research should focus upon generating data on spatial and temporal variation, depth distribution, quantification of various pools, and transport/translocation of SOC, as well as the establishment of soil/SOC databases, in relation to specific land use and management practices.

Erosion Himalaya Land use Nepal SOC SOC stock Watershed 

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • B.K. Sitaula
    • 1
  • R.M. Bajracharya
    • 2
  • B.R. Singh
    • 3
  • B. Solberg
    • 4
  1. 1.Centre for International Environment and Development StudiesAgricultural University of NorwayNorway
  2. 2.Kathmandu UniversityDhulikhelNepal
  3. 3.Department of Plant and Environmental SciencesAgricultural University of NorwayNorway
  4. 4.Department of Forest SciencesAgricultural University of NorwayNorway

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