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Biodegradation of Riverbeds and Carbon Sequestration in Farmed and Sustainable Ecosystems

The general objective of this project was to contribute to the evaluation of land use and management impacts on C sequestration and nitrogen dynamics in soils. The land used through the presence/absence of crops and their species, and the land management through tillage, localisation of crop residues, fertiliser applications, … are important factors that affect the dynamics of organic matters in soils, particularly the mineralization of C and N, the losses to the atmosphere and hydrosphere, the retention of carbon into the soil.

This project was conducted by four research groups, three of them having expertise in nutrient cycling of three major agro-ecosystems (arable crops, grasslands, forests) and the fourth one having expertise in modelling long term effects of land use on C storage into the soils. Within this common project one major objective was to better understand the fate of plant litter entering the soil either as above litter or as root litter. The focus was put on two factors that particularly affect decomposition: the initial biochemical quality of plant litter, and the location of the decomposing litter.

One innovative aspect of the project was the use of stable isotope as 13C for carbon, based on the use of enriched or depleted 13C material, the only option to assess the dynamics of “new” C entering the soil on the short term, in order to reveal the effects of decomposition factors. Another aspect was the simultaneous study of C and N.

The project consisted in experiments relevant for each agro-ecosystem, in forest, grassland and arable soils for which interactions between residue quality and nitrogen availability on the one hand, residue quality and location on the other hand, was investigated. A common experiment was set up to investigate the potential degradability of the various residue used (beech leaf, rape straw, young rye, Lolium and dactylic roots) in a their original soils and in a single soil was assessed. Based on these experiments, the Roth-C model of Coleman and Jenkinson (1996) was used to simulate the short term evolution of residual C, biomass C. A new parametrization based on biochemical composition of residues was proposed.

  • Impacts
  • Mitigation