Fractions of organic carbon in soils under different crop rotations, cover crops and fertilization practices
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We investigated the long-term effects (13–48 years) of crop rotations, cover crops and fertilization practices on soil organic carbon fractions. Two long-term experiments conducted on a clay loam soil in southeastern Norway were used. From the crop rotation experiment, two rotations, one with two years grain + four years grass and the second with grain alone (both for 6 years), were selected. Each rotation was divided into moderate fertilizer rate (30–40 kg N ha–1), normal fertilizer rate (80–120 kg N ha–1) and farmyard manure (FYM 60 Mg ha–1 + inorganic N at normal rate). Farmyard manure was applied only once in a 6-year rotation, while NPK was applied to every crop. The cover crop experiment with principal cereal crops consisted of three treatments: no cover, rye grass and clover as cover crops. Each cover crop was fertilized with 0 and 120 kg ha–1 N rates. Soil samples from both experiments were taken from 0–10 cm and 10–25 cm depths in the autumn of 2001. The classical extraction procedure with alkali and acid solution was used to separate humic acid (HA), fulvic acid (FA) and humin fractions, while H2O2 was used to separate black carbon (BC) from the humin fraction. The rotation of grain + grass showed a significantly higher soil organic carbon (SOC) compared with grain alone at both depths. Farmyard manure application resulted in significantly higher SOC than that of mineral fertilizer only. However, cover crops and N rates did not affect SOC significantly. Organic carbon content of FA, HA and humin fractions accounted for about 29%, 25% and 44% of SOC, respectively. The rotation of grain+grass gave a higher C content in HA and humin fractions, and a lower C in the FA fraction as compared with the rotation with grain alone. Farmyard manure increased HA and humin fractions more than did chemical fertilizers. Clover cover crop increased the C proportion of humin more than rye grass and no cover crop. No significant differences in C contents of FA, HA and humin fractions were observed between N rates. Effects of cover crop and N rates as well as fertilization with NPK on black carbon (BC) content were significant only at 10–25 cm depths. Farmyard manure increased the BC fraction compared with chemical fertilizers. Clover crop also enhanced the accumulation of the BC fraction. Application of 120 kg N ha–1 resulted in a significant increase of the BC fraction.
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