The current interest in characterizing, predicting and managing soil C dynamics has focused attention on making estimates of C inputs to soil more accurate and precise. Net primary productivity (NPP) provides the inputs of carbon (C) in ecosystems and determines the amount of photosynthetically fixed C that can potentially be sequestered in soil organic matter. We present a method for estimating NPP and annual C inputs to soil for some common Canadian agroecosystems, using a series of plant C allocation coefficients for each crop type across the country. The root-derived C in these coefficients was estimated by reviewing studies reporting information on plant shoot-to-root (S:R) ratios ( n = 168). Mean S:R ratios for annual crops were highest for small-grain cereals (7.4), followed by corn (5.6) and soybeans (5.2), and lowest for forages (1.6). The review also showed considerable uncertainty (coefficient of variation for S:R ratios of ∼50% for annual crops and ∼75% for perennial forages) in estimating below-ground NPP (BNPP) in agroecosystems; uncertainty was similar to that for Canadian boreal forests. The BNPP (including extra-root C) was lower for annual crops (∼20% of NPP) than for perennial forages (∼50%). The latter was similar to estimates for relative below-ground C allocation in other Canadian natural ecosystems such as mixed grasslands and forests. The proposed method is easy to use, specific for particular crops, management practices, and driven by agronomic yields. It can be readily up-dated with new experimental results and measurements of parameters used to quantify the accumulation and distribution of photosynthetically fixed C in different types of crops.
Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment – Elsevier
Published: Jan 1, 2007
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