Simulating soil organic C dynamics in managed grasslands under humid temperate climatic conditions
Abstract. Temperate grasslands are of paramount importance in terms of soil organic carbon (SOC) dynamics. Globally, research on SOC dynamics has largely focused on forests, croplands and natural grasslands, while intensively managed grasslands has received much less attention.
In this regard, we aimed to improve the prediction of SOC dynamics in managed grasslands under humid temperate regions. In order to do so, we modified and recalibrated the SOC model RothC, originally developed to model the turnover of SOC in arable topsoils, which requires limited amount of readily available input data. The modifications proposed for the RothC are: (1) water content up to saturation conditions in the soil water function of RothC to fit the humid temperate climatic conditions, (2) entry pools that account for particularity of exogenous organic matter (EOM) applied (e.g., ruminant excreta), (3) annual variation in the carbon inputs derived from plant residues considering both above- and below-ground plant residue and rhizodeposits components as well as their quality, and (4) the livestock treading effect (i.e., poaching damage) as a common problem in humid areas with higher annual precipitation. In the paper, we describe the basis of these modifications, carry out a simple sensitivity analysis and validate predictions against data from existing field experiments from four sites in Europe. Model performance showed that modified RothC reasonably captures well the different modifications. However, the model seems to be more sensitive to soil moisture and plant residues modifications than to the other modifications. The applied changes in RothC model could be appropriate to simulate both farm and regional SOC dynamics from managed grassland-based systems under humid temperate conditions.
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