Accumulation of soil organic carbon during natural restoration of desertified grassland in China’s Horqin Sandy Land

Yu Qiang Li, Xue Yong Zhao, Feng Xia Zhang, Tala Awada, Shao Kun Wang, Ha Lin Zhao, Tong Hui Zhang, Yu Lin Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations

Abstract

China’s Horqin Sandy Land, a formerly lush grassland, has experienced extensive desertification that caused considerable carbon (C) losses from the plant-soil system. Natural restoration through grazing exclusion is a widely suggested option to sequester C and to restore degraded land. In a desertified grassland, we investigated the C accumulation in the total and light fractions of the soil organic matter from 2005 to 2013 during natural restoration. To a depth of 20 cm, the light fraction organic carbon (LFOC) storage increased by 221 g C/m2 (84%) and the total soil organic carbon (SOC) storage increased by 435 g C/m2 (55%). The light fraction dry matter content represented a small proportion of the total soil mass (ranging from 0.74% in 2005 to 1.39% in 2013), but the proportion of total SOC storage accounted for by LFOC was remarkable (ranging from 33% to 40%). The C sequestration averaged 28 g C/(m2·a) for LFOC and 54 g C/(m2·a) for total SOC. The total SOC was strongly and significantly positively linearly related to the light fraction dry matter content and the proportions of fine sand and silt+clay. The light fraction organic matter played a major role in total SOC sequestration. Our results suggest that grazing exclusion can restore desertified grassland and has a high potential for sequestering SOC in the semiarid Horqin Sandy Land.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)328-340
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Arid Land
Volume7
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2015
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • carbon sequestration
  • carbon storage
  • grazing exclusion
  • restoration
  • soil light fraction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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