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  • 1
    Language: English
    In: Plant and Soil, 2011, Vol.340(1), pp.7-24
    Description: Spatial prediction of soil organic matter is a global challenge and of particular importance for regions with intensive land use and where availability of soil data is limited. This study evaluated a Digital Soil Mapping (DSM) approach to model the spatial distribution of stocks of soil organic carbon (SOC), total carbon (C tot ), total nitrogen (N tot ) and total sulphur (S tot ) for a data-sparse, semi-arid catchment in Inner Mongolia, Northern China. Random Forest (RF) was used as a new modeling tool for soil properties and Classification and Regression Trees (CART) as an additional method for the analysis of variable importance. At 120 locations soil profiles to 1 m depth were analyzed for soil texture, SOC, C tot , N tot , S tot , bulk density (BD) and pH. On the basis of a digital elevation model, the catchment was divided into pixels of 90 m × 90 m and for each cell, predictor variables were determined: land use unit, Reference Soil Group (RSG), geological unit and 12 topography-related variables. Prediction maps showed that the highest amounts of SOC, C tot , N tot and S tot stocks are stored under marshland, steppes and mountain meadows. River-like structures of very high elemental stocks in valleys within the steppes are partly responsible for the high amounts of SOC for grasslands (81–84% of total catchment stocks). Analysis of variable importance showed that land use, RSG and geology are the most important variables influencing SOC storage. Prediction accuracy of the RF modeling and the generated maps was acceptable and explained variances of 42 to 62% and 66 to 75%, respectively. A decline of up to 70% in elemental stocks was calculated after conversion of steppe to arable land confirming the risk of rapid soil degradation if steppes are cultivated. Thus their suitability for agricultural use is limited.
    Keywords: Classification and Regression Trees (CART) ; Soil organic carbon (SOC) ; China ; Grassland
    ISSN: 0032-079X
    E-ISSN: 1573-5036
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  • 2
    Language: English
    In: Plant and Soil, 2010, Vol.331(1), pp.341-359
    Description: In order to identify the effects of land-use/cover types, soil types and soil properties on the soil-atmosphere exchange of greenhouse gases (GHG) in semiarid grasslands as well as provide a reliable estimate of the midsummer GHG budget, nitrous oxide (N 2 O), methane (CH 4 ) and carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) fluxes of soil cores from 30 representative sites were determined in the upper Xilin River catchment in Inner Mongolia. The soil N 2 O emissions across all of the investigated sites ranged from 0.18 to 21.8 μg N m -2  h -1 , with a mean of 3.4 μg N m -2  h -1 and a coefficient of variation (CV, which is given as a percentage ratio of one standard deviation to the mean) as large as 130%. CH 4 fluxes ranged from -88.6 to 2,782.8 μg C m -2  h -1 (with a CV of 849%). Net CH 4 emissions were only observed from cores taken from a marshland site, whereas all of the other 29 investigated sites showed net CH 4 uptake (mean: -33.3 μg C m -2  h -1 ). CO 2 emissions from all sites ranged from 3.6 to 109.3 mg C m -2  h -1 , with a mean value of 37.4 mg C m -2  h -1 and a CV of 66%. Soil moisture primarily and positively regulated the spatial variability in N 2 O and CO 2 emissions (R 2  = 0.15–0.28, P  〈 0.05). The spatial variation of N 2 O emissions was also influenced by soil inorganic N contents ( P  〈 0.05). By simply up-scaling the site measurements by the various land-use/cover types to the entire catchment area (3,900 km 2 ), the fluxes of N 2 O, CH 4 and CO 2 at the time of sampling (mid-summer 2007) were estimated at 29 t CO 2 -C-eq d -1 , -26 t CO 2 -C-eq d -1 and 3,223 t C d -1 , respectively. This suggests that, in terms of assessing the spatial variability of total GHG fluxes from the soils at a semiarid catchment/region, intensive studies may focus on CO 2 exchange, which is dominating the global warming potential of midsummer soil-atmosphere GHG fluxes. In addition, average GHG fluxes in midsummer, weighted by the areal extent of these land-use/cover types in the region, were approximately -30.0 μg C m -2  h -1 for CH 4 , 2.4 μg N m -2  h -1 for N 2 O and 34.5 mg C m -2  h -1 for CO 2 .
    Keywords: GHG fluxes ; Land-use/cover ; Semi-arid grassland ; Xilin River catchment
    ISSN: 0032-079X
    E-ISSN: 1573-5036
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  • 3
    Language: English
    In: Plant and Soil, 2011, Vol.340(1), pp.35-58
    Description: Semiarid steppe ecosystems account for large terrestrial areas and are considered as large carbon (C) sinks. However, fundamental information on topsoil sensitivity to grazing is lacking across different spatial scales including the effects of topography. Our interdisciplinary approach considering soil chemical, physical, and vegetation properties included investigations on pit scale (square-metre scale), plot scale (hectare scale), and the scale of a landscape section (several hectares). Five different sites, representing a grazing intensity gradient, ranging from a long-term grazing exclosure to a heavily grazed site were used. On the pit scale, data about aggregate size distribution, quantity of different soil organic carbon (SOC) pools, SOC mineralisation, hydraulic conductivity and shear strength was available for topsoil samples from representative soil profiles. Spatial variability of topographical parameters, topsoil texture, bulk density, SOC, water repellency, and vegetation cover was analysed on the basis of regular, orthogonal grids in differently grazed treatments by using two different grid sizes on the plot scale and landscape section. On the pit scale, intensive grazing clearly decreased soil aggregation and the amount of fresh, litter-like particulate organic matter (POM). The weak aggregation in combination with animal trampling led to an enhanced mineralisation of SOC, higher topsoil bulk densities, lower infiltration rates, and subsequently to a higher risk of soil erosion. On the plot scale, the effects of soil structure disruption due to grazing are enhanced by the degradation of vegetation patches and resulted in a texture-controlled wettability of the soil surface. In contrast, topsoils of grazing exclosures were characterised by advantageous mechanical topsoil characteristics and SOC-controlled wettability due to higher POM contents. A combined geostatistical and General Linear Model approach identified topography as the fundamental factor creating the spatial distribution of texture fractions and related soil parameters on the scale of a landscape section. Grazing strongly interfered with the topography-controlled particle relocation processes in the landscape and showed strongest effects on the aboveground biomass production and biomass-related soil properties like SOC stocks. We conclude that interdisciplinary multi-scale analyses are essential (i) to differentiate between topography- and grazing-controlled spatial patterns of topsoil and vegetation properties, and (ii) to identify the main grazing-sensitive processes on small scales that are interacting with the spatial distribution and relocation processes on larger scales.
    Keywords: Steppe soils ; Soil organic matter fractions ; Organic carbon mineralisation ; Wind erosion ; Texture ; Vegetation cover ; Shear strength ; Hydraulic conductivity ; Water repellency ; Anisotropy
    ISSN: 0032-079X
    E-ISSN: 1573-5036
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  • 4
    Language: English
    In: Biology and Fertility of Soils, 4/2012, Vol.48(3), pp.305-313
    Description: Soil labile organic carbon (C) oxidation drives the flux of carbon dioxide (CO sub(2)) between soils and the atmosphere. However, the impact of grazing management and the contribution soil aggregate size classes (ASCs) to labile organic C from grassland soils is unclear. We evaluated the effects of grazing intensity and soil ASC on the soil labile organic C, including CO sub(2) production, microbial biomass C, and dissolved organic C and nitrogen (N) mineralization in topsoils (0-10 cm) in Inner Mongolia, Northern China. Soil samples were separated into ASCs of 0-630 mu m [fine ASC (fASC)], 630-2000 mu m [medium ASC (mASC)] and 〉2000 mu m [coarse ASC (cASC)]. The results showed that heavy grazing (HG) and continuous grazing (CG) increased soil labile organic C significantly compared to an ungrazed site since 1999 (UG99) and an ungrazed site since 1979 (UG79). For winter grazing site (WG), no significant differences were found. CO sub(2) production was highest in cASC, while lowest in fASC. Microbial biomass C and dissolved organic C showed the highest values in mASC and were significantly lower in fASC. Grazing increased N mineralization in bulk soils, while it exhibited complex effects in the three ASCs. The results suggest that the rate of C mineralization was related to the rate of N accumulation. To reduce CO sub(2) emission and nutrient loss, and to improve soil quality and productivity, a grazing system with moderate intensity is suggested.
    Keywords: Soil ; Grasslands ; Carbon ; Grazing ; Oxidation ; Soils (Organic) ; Biomass ; Mineralization ; Carbon Dioxide ; Atmosphere ; Nutrient Loss ; Nitrogen ; Ecosystem and Ecology Studies;
    ISSN: 0178-2762
    E-ISSN: 1432-0789
    Source: Springer (via CrossRef)
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  • 5
    Language: English
    In: Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems, 2012, Vol.93(3), pp.357-371
    Description: Although a significant fraction of the global soil–atmosphere exchange of greenhouse gases (GHGs) occurs in semi-arid zones little is known about the magnitude of fluxes in grazed steppe ecosystems and the interference with grazing intensity. In order to assess GHG burdens and to identify options of climate-optimized livestock farming, GHG emissions of sheep grazing in Inner Mongolia steppe were analyzed. Carbon sequestration and field-fluxes of methane (CH 4 ) and nitrous oxide (N 2 O) were measured at a range of steppe sites differing in grazing intensity and management, i.e. ungrazed (UG), ungrazed with hay cutting (HC), lightly grazed (LG), moderately grazed (MG), and heavily grazed (HG). In addition, GHG emissions from enteric fermentation, manure management, and farming inputs (i.e. fossil fuels) were quantified for LG, MG, and HG. Monte Carlo simulation was used to estimate uncertainty. Sheep grazing changed the net GHG balance of the steppe from a significant sink at UG (−1476 ± 2481 kg CO 2eq ha −1  year −1 ) to a significant source at MG (2350 ± 1723 kg CO 2eq ha −1  year −1 ) and HG (3115 ± 2327 kg CO 2eq ha −1  year −1 ). In a similar way, the GHG intensity increased from 8.6 ± 79.2 kg CO 2eq  kg −1 liveweight gain at LG up to 62.2 ± 45.8 and 62.6 ± 46.7 kg CO 2eq  kg −1 liveweight gain at MG and HG, respectively. GHG balances were predominantly determined by CO 2 from changes in topsoil organic carbon. In grazing systems, CH 4 from enteric fermentation was the second most important component. The results suggest that sheep grazing under the current management changes this steppe ecosystem from a sink to a source of GHGs and that grazing exclusion holds large potential to restore soil organic carbon stocks and thus to sequester atmospheric CO 2 . The balance between grazing intensity and grazing exclusion predominantly determines GHG balances of grass-based sheep farming in this region. Therefore, a high proportion of ungrazed land is most important for reducing GHG balances of sheep farms. This can be either achieved by high grazing intensity on the remaining grazed land or by confined hay feeding of sheep.
    Keywords: Carbon footprint ; Global warming potential ; Grazing intensity ; Greenhouse gas ; Life cycle assessment ; Sheep meat production
    ISSN: 1385-1314
    E-ISSN: 1573-0867
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