Sequestering soil carbon in the low input farming systems of the semi-arid tropics – does litter quality matter?

Whitbread, A M and Lefroy, R and Blair, G and Konboon, Y and Naklang, K (2017) Sequestering soil carbon in the low input farming systems of the semi-arid tropics – does litter quality matter? In: Global Symposium on Soil Organic Carbon, 21-23 March 2017, Rome, Italy.

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Maintaining soil organic matter (SOM) in low input smallholder rice cropping systems worldwide is of paramount importance to maintaining livelihoods and food security. A long term rainfed lowland rice experiment tested the hypothesis that applying small (1.5 t/ha dry matter) annual additions of slowly decomposable plant materials which were grown offsite and applied prior to land preparation, could result in increased soil organic carbon, crop yield and improve the recovery of nutrients compared with plant materials of higher quality or straw retention alone. Annual leaf litter applications over 9 seasons resulted in significant increases in SOC of 39% (from 3.5 to 4.9 mg/g) in the leaf litter treatments compared to only 13 % in the noleaf litter control. In terms of rice grain production and nutrient use efficiency, leaf litter quality was an important driver. Apparent nutrient recovery of nitrogen and sulfur reflected the decomposition rate of the added residues. Sustainable farming systems will require that crop yields are stable through the maintenance of soil fertility and the balanced use of nutrients in the system. The results of this study are therefore highly significant and provide evidence that low rate, long term residue management can have profound effects.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Divisions: Research Program : Innovation Systems for the Drylands (ISD)
CRP: CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Low input farming systems, Semi-arid tropics, Soil carbon
Subjects: Others > Semi-Arid Tropics
Others > Farming Systems
Others > Drylands Agriculture
Others > Soil Science
Depositing User: Mr Ramesh K
Date Deposited: 17 May 2017 08:59
Last Modified: 17 May 2017 10:03
Acknowledgement: Australian Centre for International Research (ACIAR) funded this initiative through grants to the University of New England 1991-1999. The CGIAR CRP for Water, Land and Ecosystems funds the lead author’s time and attendance at this meeting
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