Spatial variation of soil properties and carbon under different land use types on the Chinese Loess Plateau.


State Key Laboratory of Loess and Quaternary Geology, Institute of Earth Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xi'an 710061, China; Shaanxi Key Laboratory of Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Technology and Application, Xi'an AMS Center, Xi'an 710061, China; Interdisciplinary Research Center of Earth Science Frontier, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China; CAS Center for Excellence in Quaternary Science and Global Change, Xi'an 710061, China. Electronic address: [Email]


Land-use affects soil properties and soil carbon storage. Fully understanding land-use impacts on soil is essential to predicting effects on soils from climate change, and providing a scientific basis for soil management. Here, we measured soil properties, soil organic carbon (SOC), soil inorganic carbon (SIC) and total carbon (TC) from 202 samples from cropland, forestland, and grassland, to a depth of 500 cm on the Chinese Loess Plateau (CLP). We find that grassland and cropland have the highest clay and silt content, and have a significantly higher soil moisture capacity than forestland. Soil moisture in forestland is scarce at depths of 100-300 cm, and does not benefit from rainfall infiltration. At the same time, the soil carbon content and stocks in grassland are not significantly different from forestland. We suggest that in the light of climate change and water shortages on the CLP, grassland is more suitable than forestland or cropland to optimize carbon fixation, and prevent soil erosion. Hence the cultivation of grass should be considered as a strategy for sustainable ecosystem management on the CLP.


Grain for green,Land uses,Soil inorganic carbon,Soil moisture,Soil organic carbon,The Loess Plateau,

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