Increases in soil organic carbon sequestration can reduce the global warming potential of long-term liming to permanent grassland

D. A. Fornara, S. Steinbeiss, N. P. McNamara, G. Gleixner, S. Oakley, P. R. Poulton, A. J. Macdonald, R. D. Bardgett

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    The application of calcium- and magnesium-rich materials to soil, known as liming, has long been a foundation of many agro-ecosystems worldwide because of its role in counteracting soil acidity. Although liming contributes to increased rates of respiration from soil thereby potentially reducing soils ability to act as a CO2 sink, the long-term effects of liming on soil organic carbon (Corg) sequestration are largely unknown. Here, using data spanning 129 years of the Park Grass Experiment at Rothamsted (UK), we show net Corg sequestration measured in the 0–23cm layer at different time intervals since 1876 was 2–20 times greater in limed than in unlimed soils. The main cause of this large Corg accrual was greater biological activity in limed soils, which despite increasing soil respiration rates, led to plant C inputs being processed and incorporated into resistant soil organo-mineral pools. Limed organo-mineral soils showed: (1) greater Corg content for similar plant productivity levels (i.e. hay yields); (2) higher 14C incorporation after 1950s atomic bomb testing and (3) lower C:N ratios than unlimed organo-mineral soils, which also indicate higher microbial processing of plant C. Our results show that greater Corg sequestration in limed soils strongly reduced the global warming potential of long-term liming to permanent grassland suggesting the net contribution of agricultural liming to global warming could be lower than previously estimated. Our study demonstrates that liming might prove to be an effective mitigation strategy, especially because liming applications can be associated with a reduced use of nitrogen fertilizer which is a key cause for increased greenhouse gas emissions from agro-ecosystems.
    LanguageEnglish
    Pages1925-1934
    JournalGlobal Change Biology
    Volumedoi: 1
    Publication statusPublished - 22 Oct 2011

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    liming
    carbon sequestration
    global warming
    grassland
    organic carbon
    soil
    mineral
    ecosystem
    hay
    soil respiration
    acidity
    magnesium
    respiration
    greenhouse gas
    mitigation
    calcium
    fertilizer
    grass
    productivity

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    Fornara, D. A., Steinbeiss, S., McNamara, N. P., Gleixner, G., Oakley, S., Poulton, P. R., ... Bardgett, R. D. (2011). Increases in soil organic carbon sequestration can reduce the global warming potential of long-term liming to permanent grassland. Global Change Biology, doi: 1, 1925-1934.
    Fornara, D. A. ; Steinbeiss, S. ; McNamara, N. P. ; Gleixner, G. ; Oakley, S. ; Poulton, P. R. ; Macdonald, A. J. ; Bardgett, R. D. / Increases in soil organic carbon sequestration can reduce the global warming potential of long-term liming to permanent grassland. In: Global Change Biology. 2011 ; Vol. doi: 1. pp. 1925-1934.
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    abstract = "The application of calcium- and magnesium-rich materials to soil, known as liming, has long been a foundation of many agro-ecosystems worldwide because of its role in counteracting soil acidity. Although liming contributes to increased rates of respiration from soil thereby potentially reducing soils ability to act as a CO2 sink, the long-term effects of liming on soil organic carbon (Corg) sequestration are largely unknown. Here, using data spanning 129 years of the Park Grass Experiment at Rothamsted (UK), we show net Corg sequestration measured in the 0–23cm layer at different time intervals since 1876 was 2–20 times greater in limed than in unlimed soils. The main cause of this large Corg accrual was greater biological activity in limed soils, which despite increasing soil respiration rates, led to plant C inputs being processed and incorporated into resistant soil organo-mineral pools. Limed organo-mineral soils showed: (1) greater Corg content for similar plant productivity levels (i.e. hay yields); (2) higher 14C incorporation after 1950s atomic bomb testing and (3) lower C:N ratios than unlimed organo-mineral soils, which also indicate higher microbial processing of plant C. Our results show that greater Corg sequestration in limed soils strongly reduced the global warming potential of long-term liming to permanent grassland suggesting the net contribution of agricultural liming to global warming could be lower than previously estimated. Our study demonstrates that liming might prove to be an effective mitigation strategy, especially because liming applications can be associated with a reduced use of nitrogen fertilizer which is a key cause for increased greenhouse gas emissions from agro-ecosystems.",
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    Fornara, DA, Steinbeiss, S, McNamara, NP, Gleixner, G, Oakley, S, Poulton, PR, Macdonald, AJ & Bardgett, RD 2011, 'Increases in soil organic carbon sequestration can reduce the global warming potential of long-term liming to permanent grassland', Global Change Biology, vol. doi: 1, pp. 1925-1934.

    Increases in soil organic carbon sequestration can reduce the global warming potential of long-term liming to permanent grassland. / Fornara, D. A.; Steinbeiss, S.; McNamara, N. P.; Gleixner, G.; Oakley, S.; Poulton, P. R.; Macdonald, A. J.; Bardgett, R. D.

    In: Global Change Biology, Vol. doi: 1, 22.10.2011, p. 1925-1934.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    TY - JOUR

    T1 - Increases in soil organic carbon sequestration can reduce the global warming potential of long-term liming to permanent grassland

    AU - Fornara, D. A.

    AU - Steinbeiss, S.

    AU - McNamara, N. P.

    AU - Gleixner, G.

    AU - Oakley, S.

    AU - Poulton, P. R.

    AU - Macdonald, A. J.

    AU - Bardgett, R. D.

    PY - 2011/10/22

    Y1 - 2011/10/22

    N2 - The application of calcium- and magnesium-rich materials to soil, known as liming, has long been a foundation of many agro-ecosystems worldwide because of its role in counteracting soil acidity. Although liming contributes to increased rates of respiration from soil thereby potentially reducing soils ability to act as a CO2 sink, the long-term effects of liming on soil organic carbon (Corg) sequestration are largely unknown. Here, using data spanning 129 years of the Park Grass Experiment at Rothamsted (UK), we show net Corg sequestration measured in the 0–23cm layer at different time intervals since 1876 was 2–20 times greater in limed than in unlimed soils. The main cause of this large Corg accrual was greater biological activity in limed soils, which despite increasing soil respiration rates, led to plant C inputs being processed and incorporated into resistant soil organo-mineral pools. Limed organo-mineral soils showed: (1) greater Corg content for similar plant productivity levels (i.e. hay yields); (2) higher 14C incorporation after 1950s atomic bomb testing and (3) lower C:N ratios than unlimed organo-mineral soils, which also indicate higher microbial processing of plant C. Our results show that greater Corg sequestration in limed soils strongly reduced the global warming potential of long-term liming to permanent grassland suggesting the net contribution of agricultural liming to global warming could be lower than previously estimated. Our study demonstrates that liming might prove to be an effective mitigation strategy, especially because liming applications can be associated with a reduced use of nitrogen fertilizer which is a key cause for increased greenhouse gas emissions from agro-ecosystems.

    AB - The application of calcium- and magnesium-rich materials to soil, known as liming, has long been a foundation of many agro-ecosystems worldwide because of its role in counteracting soil acidity. Although liming contributes to increased rates of respiration from soil thereby potentially reducing soils ability to act as a CO2 sink, the long-term effects of liming on soil organic carbon (Corg) sequestration are largely unknown. Here, using data spanning 129 years of the Park Grass Experiment at Rothamsted (UK), we show net Corg sequestration measured in the 0–23cm layer at different time intervals since 1876 was 2–20 times greater in limed than in unlimed soils. The main cause of this large Corg accrual was greater biological activity in limed soils, which despite increasing soil respiration rates, led to plant C inputs being processed and incorporated into resistant soil organo-mineral pools. Limed organo-mineral soils showed: (1) greater Corg content for similar plant productivity levels (i.e. hay yields); (2) higher 14C incorporation after 1950s atomic bomb testing and (3) lower C:N ratios than unlimed organo-mineral soils, which also indicate higher microbial processing of plant C. Our results show that greater Corg sequestration in limed soils strongly reduced the global warming potential of long-term liming to permanent grassland suggesting the net contribution of agricultural liming to global warming could be lower than previously estimated. Our study demonstrates that liming might prove to be an effective mitigation strategy, especially because liming applications can be associated with a reduced use of nitrogen fertilizer which is a key cause for increased greenhouse gas emissions from agro-ecosystems.

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    VL - doi: 1

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    JO - Global Change Biology

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    Fornara DA, Steinbeiss S, McNamara NP, Gleixner G, Oakley S, Poulton PR et al. Increases in soil organic carbon sequestration can reduce the global warming potential of long-term liming to permanent grassland. Global Change Biology. 2011 Oct 22;doi: 1:1925-1934.