Soil organic matter dynamics along a rice chronosequence in north-eastern Argentina: Evidence from natural C-13 abundance and particle size fractionation
Desjardins, T. | Folgarait, P.J. | Pando-Bahuon, A. | Girardin, C. | Lavelle, P.
We studied the consequences of rice cultivation and its subsequent abandonment for soil organic matter (SOM) dynamics in northeastern Argentina. Two chronosequences, which included a pristine grassland with C4 vegetation as a control, and several stages of rice (C3) fields abandoned for 1, 2, 4, 6 and 15 years were selected, and soil samples from the first 10 cm were gathered from each plot. Natural C-13 abundance coupled with particle-size fractionation were employed to characterize SOM changes through time discriminated by SOM origin. Soil samples up to 50 cm were also collected throughout one chronosequence. Most changes in SOM occurred on the first 20 cm layer and, bulk density, carbon and nitrogen content, as well as delta C-13 remained similar at greater depths. After the rice cropping, the bulk density was slightly greater than in the natural grassland, and remained stable after the abandonment. Carbon and nitrogen contents remained almost stable in the surface layer during the cultivation. delta C-13 varied accordingly with the changes in vegetation cover with a C4 signature in the natural grassland and mainly a C3 signature in the rice fields. The abandonment of the rice cropping induced a decrease of the soil organic matter content, mainly of natural grassland origin, during the first 4 years. When the abandonment extended, the SOM content (from C4 origin) increased slowly and after 15 years, was almost the same as that of the natural grassland. The carbon turnover was greater in the coarser fractions than in the finer ones, confirming that soil organic carbon in the sand fraction was relatively labile. However, all the fractions were affected by inputs and outputs of C derived from rice and natural grassland. This fact could indicate that the former protected carbon could become less stable due to cultivation.Show more [+] Less [-]